Energy Challenges and Solutions Conference

Last Thursday, 30th November 2017, a Conference on Current and Future Policy Energy Challenges and Solutions organised by Leitrim County Council was hosted at The Dock Arts Centre. The event gave good insights on the ongoing EU-funded SECURE Project – Smart Energy Communities, part of the Northern Periphery and Artic Programme 2014-2020, along with possible solutions needed for the energy transition in Ireland.

The conference kicked off with an introduction and welcome by Mr. Shane Tiernan of Leitrim County Council, followed by speakers such as Leo Strawbridge, Niall Kiernan or the DCCAE Principal Strategic Energy Policy, Martin Finucane. An explanation was given on the challenges that Ireland is facing and will continue to face over the next years as well as the wide range of technology we have at our disposal to fight against the climate change.

The talks included some international partners working on the SECURE project such as Kaija Saramäki (University of Applied Sciences, Finland) and Emma Norton (Nova Scotia, Canada). They shared with us policy energy measures in some regions around the world as examples of potential solutions to implement in the current Irish Energy System.

Illustration 1: Energy secure communities

Our volunteers Francesca (Italy) and Bruno (Spain) attended the event as GEAI delegation.  Paul Mc Nama from IT Sligo also gave a presentation on the NECS Project (Northwest Energy Community Start-up) carried out by IT Sligo and Good Energies Alliance Ireland in six local communities in Co Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal. The project was shown as an example of community engagement through activities such as door-to-door energy surveys, seminars and the World Café which stimulated interesting discussions. During the coffee break the volunteers had the opportunity to chat with different attendees and share views and opinions on the presented project.

Reduce your bill – join local sustainable community.

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Our Survey of Four Communities in Leitrim is done

Volunteers from GEAI finished surveys last week on how households get and use energy . Four towns were surveyed: Drumshanbo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballinamore and Carrigallen. 10% of houses in Drumshanbo (60), Carrick-on-Shannon (150), Ballinamore (50) were surveyed and 20% of houses in Carrigallen (25).

This energy survey is part of the Northwest Energy Communities Start-up project (NECS). The project is a part of the national plan for transition of communities all over Ireland to a low carbon economy, moving away from fossil fuels and using renewable energy resources.

The partners in this project are Good Energies Alliance Ireland and I.T. Sligo. The project is funded by SEAI – the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Basically the NECS project is researching how people, in selected towns, use energy and how much it costs them. GEAI and IT Sligo prepared questionnaires for each town.  The questions were about type of houses, heating systems, heating control systems and most importantly, questions about energy bills.

After all the information is analyzed, GEAI and IT Sligo will organize an Exhibition Day in each surveyed town to give the results of the surveys and plan how residents could have warmer, more comfortable homes while costing them less on fuel and heating.

After the project, each town can be registered as a  (SEC) with the SEAI.  The SEC programme gives grants to make homes more energy efficient and warmer through more insulation, better windows, solar panels and upgrading boilers, for example.

Form volunteers perspective.

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For the GEAI volunteers it was a unique experience.

“We were knocking on doors and asking questions. This experience helped to train our communication skills, flexibility, teamwork and many other skills.”

The volunteers worked 2 days per week in the evening from about 5 pm till 8:30 pm. They were supported by local volunteers in each town, so that people were happy to answer questions.

“We came across different situations, different people’s reactions. The vast majority of people were nice to us and they were glad to help us.  They were also interested in reducing their energy bills!”

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