Long Wood Community Woodland

Alice and Del were present at the launch of the visitor centre building of the Long Wood Community Woodland (CGLWCW) in Wales, a useful opportunity for Alice to see how communities in Wales are dealing with biomass and to talk with the volunteers that worked for the place.



We got to know Long Wood, a 300 acre mixed, community-owned woodland which includes over 9 miles of footpaths and bridleways to enjoy and explore.

It was established in 2003 as a social enterprise in West Wales, originally owned by the Forestry Commission. The directors successfully applied for grants allowing the directors to purchase the woodland and employ a project manager and support staff to begin to develop it as a sustainable business and community leisure facility.

Forest School

Forest School

During the years that followed the place was converted, with the help of the community to an educational and volunteer centre. It sales sustainable timber and promotes the use of it.

The best example they provided is the building of the visiting centre whose opening we attended. Entirely made from timber from the land and with the help of the volunteers, it is ready to serve as a centre for operations, offer a warm dry base for volunteers working there and be available to groups both local and from further afield.

Some technical details about the building: the frame is made from larch and the cladding boards are larch and douglas fir. The roof is larch cladding inside and out and insulated with sheep wool. All the joints are manually carved using traditional techniques and are held in place with wooden pegs. Internally the walls are built from straw bales. Recent research confirms that straw bales are extremely insulating and also low cost with a neutral carbon footprint. Taking in consideration that the electricity comes from the solar panels installed on the roof, we can truly say it’s a sustainable building with a minimum impact.

The feeling of being inside the building was very cosy – outside was light rain, inside the warmth of the wood welcomed us. The stove (using logs, of course) was not needed since the good insulation and the number of people inside made it comfortable enough.

Solar panels

Solar panels

Near it there is a compost toilet that uses sawdust.

Compost toilet

Compost toilet

As a personal impression this is a much efficient way of using biomass that should be considered more in rural communities. This building passed all the regulations and it’s low-cost and low-impact. I was impressed to see how united the community was to get to the point.

Unfortunately, wood has been forgotten in countries like UK and Ireland and people don’t build with it even though this type of resource is more eco-friendly. Biomass is versatile and can work to achieve a cleaner environment in more ways.

Our GEAI member, Del, previously volunteered in the construction of this building and was delighted to be invited to the launch. He was impressed with the final result, especially with the fact that its construction was undertaken by volunteers who were interested in sustainable buildings.

Congratulations and good luck in setting an example for other communities!

20th April: the 3 volunteers visited a sustainable farm in Fermanagh

James, a friend of GEAI presented us his farm, a different farm, where you can find a ‘little’ wind turbine, a big wood boiler and plenty of solar panels.

He was one of the first people around to install a wood boiler.

Buying wood is very expensive, that’s why I burn only my own wood that I plant in my fields and sometimes I use wooden waste like pallets”, says James.

He was a lucky though because his family owns some hectares of forest land and the wood that he cut is estimated to last between 5-8 years. Before to be useful, trees should grow up during 20 years minimum, that is the perfect age when the size is enough to burn it but not too large to be difficult to cut. Next step, wood must be dried in a hangar and after to be cut in logs fit for the boiler.

2016-04-20_Farm Palm Wood (2)

The boiler has a 40 kW capacity and in the 10 years of use he only replaced 4 small parts.

We were amazed how huge the boiler was but also his house is big.

The wind turbine

Near to his farm, James decided to construct a small windmill as part of his master degree project. In this place, the wind in sufficient to rotate the palm. Inside the windmill, the system is easy: the rotary movement moves the electric generator. A power cable leads the electricity produced to the James’ house. “I chose this place for my windmill because here is the windier field of my farm. There are no land forms or forest around and it is not so far to my house but not too close to hear it” explains James. The energy produced is controlled by an electricity meter. The turbine is mostly active at night time and he uses the energy to charge his electric car.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

His car has a 60 miles autonomy, is not much but is good to go to work and back!

But James is very proud of his solar panels. He installed them almost one year before – 16m2  of solar with a 44 kW power and in a sunny day they would produce 3.5 units.

For him are a very good option and even in winter he can get some electricity despite the weather.

We were impressed with all that we saw, but we also understand that you have to have a passion for tinkering to be able to manage and maintain all that, he really like what he does and he is always looking for new ideas. Is a lot of work involved, of course, but Ireland, because of the climate, is a place where you have to be very resourceful and take in consideration many options for heating and electricity if you want to be sustainable and to save some money.

2016-04-20_Farm Palm Wood (11)

Solar panels

2030 Vision – The Future of Energy in Ireland


2030 Vision logo small

Conference organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland
19th September 2013, Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon

To all Public Representatives, Local Authorities, Environmental NGOs and Policy-Makers
As you know, energy is a very important topic for Ireland just now.  This conference offers a unique opportunity for you to consider the issues and discuss policy.
You will, we expect, find it most informative and valuable, full details below.

2030 Vision – Renewable Energy Sources vs Fossil Fuels?

This conference will examine some of the key issues around the choices Ireland has to make at this time.  
Key topics of discussion will include:
•         2030 – A different World, a different Vision
•         Sustainable Energies and Market Needs-Bridging the Gap
•         Wind Energy and Policy
•         The Economics of Unconventional Gas Development
Speakers include:

Deborah Rogers
Lecturer on shale gas economics throughout the U.S.  Member U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI), an advisory committee within the U.S. Department of Interior.  Founder of Energy Policy Forum, Fort Worth, Texas.

Eamon Ryan
Leader of Green Party, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources 2007-2011
David Taylor
Chairman Energy Institute in Ireland, former Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
Matt Kennedy
Low Carbon Technologies Manager, SEAI
Maurice McCarthy
CEO, Organic Power Ltd. Cork
Aedín McLoughlin
Director, Good Energies Alliance Ireland
For profiles of speakers [click here]
 2030 Vision Conference
is directed at Public Representatives, Local Authority Members and Officials, and Decision-makers nationally to provide an overview of the choices facing Ireland as we move into a future that is very different and with huge implications for sustainable development.
 Conference Programme [click here]

Registration information

Thursday 19th September 2013, Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon
This conference is open to Public Representatives, Local Authority Members and Officials, local and national decision-makers and representatives of organisations interested in our Energy future.
Conference Delegate Fee: €120
Early Bird Fee (Before 1st September): €100

Special NGO delegate fee: €60

Each participant will be provided with a pack containing all information and lunch and refreshments are included.
To reserve a place please fill in the Registration Form (link below) and email to goodenergiesalliance@gmail.com
(payment is via Paypal, EFT, cheque or invoice).
 Registration Form, Payment Methods and Pro-forma Invoice [click here]
The Conference is part-funded by Leitrim County Council* and Department of Environment and Local Government under the Local Agenda 21 programme.

*The Department of Local Government & the Environment and Leitrim County Council wish to clarify that whereas they have agreed to partially fund the event, such funding assistance does not indicate endorsement or otherwise of the topics covered in the Conference.


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