Aran Islands winning war against fossil fuels as 63% of islanders have completed energy upgrades
11 August 2015
The Aran Islands are taking significant action to become energy independent after it was revealed that 63 per cent of the islands’ buildings have received energy upgrades. The island community has partnered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to deliver a range of community-led actions and supporting analysis by the SEAI has verified that the goal of carbon neutrality by 2022 is entirely achievable.
A total of 353 homes and community buildings – representing two-thirds of buildings on the islands – have completed energy upgrades with support from the SEAI, improving insulation levels and installing efficient heating systems.
This is resulting in more comfortable homes and lower energy bills with annual energy savings of €250,000 accruing to the islanders.
A trial of electric vehicles in partnership between the community and SEAI also demonstrated how transport fuel needs can be dramatically reduced. Analysis shows that energy imports could be reduced even further by replacing heating systems with heat pumps powered by wind or wave energy in the future.
Energy Minister Alex White said: “The Aran islanders’ ambition to become carbon neutral has already delivered many benefits to the islands. Energy efficiency and renewables will be at the core of the energy White Paper, which I will publish in the autumn.
“I think the vision set out for the Aran Islands could be replicated to maximise energy efficiency and the use of renewables in communities across the country. This would help us to secure an affordable, low-carbon energy future with minimal reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels.”
Brian Motherway, CEO of SEAI, who also visited the islands said: “Communities working together is the most effective way to bring about meaningful and lasting change. The Aran Islands are leading the way to show how communities can stop wasting money on imported fossil fuel and become truly sustainable and self-reliant. This also brings immediate benefits in terms of quality of life and lower energy bills.”
Dara Ó Maoildhia, chairman of Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáín Árann Teoranta (Aran Islands Renewable Energy Ltd) said that the vision of the Aran Islands becoming carbon neutral could not be achieved without the full support of the government and of SEAI: “The Aran Islands community needs a strong partnership with government, the SEAI, and other agencies to realise its ambition.
“There are many challenges to achieving what is an ambitious vision, but I’m confident that this offshore community working closely with government and key partners will achieve its goals.”
The tour of the island was coordinated by Energy Co-operatives Ireland (ECI). Cormac Walsh, CEO, said: “ECI have now established five energy co-ops throughout Ireland. Each one of these is creating jobs and enabling communities to take control of their own energy use. Every community in Ireland can achieve the same goals as the Aran Islands.
“Together with RESCOOP, our European partners, and ICOS, we are rolling out a national network of community-owned energy co-ops that can transform the Irish energy sector to the benefit of all.”
The identified actions of energy upgrades and greater use of renewable energy will reduce fossil fuel imports to the Islands by 84 per cent. In addition, exports of locally produced electricity will complete the journey to total energy independence.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2015/08/11/aran-islands-winning-war-against-fossil-fuels-63-per-cent-completed-energy-upgrades/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/aran11.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/aran11-300x300.jpgNewsenergy,Galway,renewables,SEAI