From left: Ger Mullally, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership; Jane Wickham, Energy Engineer, 3 CEA; Kevin Mahon; Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, Vice Chair and Declan Rice, CEO, KIlkenny LEADER Partnership
KILKENNY is leading the way in a countywide sustainable and renewable energy competition with a €100,000 plus prize fund which the organisers hope could catch on not just in Ireland but has the potential to be replicated globally.
Kilkenny LEADER Partnership has teamed up with the internationally-renowned and locally based 3 Counties Energy Agency (3 CEA) to find Kilkenny’s Energy Town. The whole county initiative will support communities and business interests in a number of qualifying, mid-sized towns in the county to become more sustainable energy efficient and to reduce their carbon emissions. From this, one overall winner will be crowned Kilkenny’s Energy Town.
A series of information meetings are being held in four key, central hubs from the end of this month to explain the initiative and householders, residential groups, businesses and the wider community in these areas and the surrounding hinterland, who are interested in competing, are all encouraged to attend and see how they might benefit.
The free, hour-long and easy to understand information events, all beginning at 7pm sharp, start out in Callan on Thursday, February 28 with a session at the KCAT Art and Study Centre on Mill Lane. The Barrow Valley Activities Hub in Graiguenamanagh is the venue for the second information session on Monday, March 4. The third information evening is in Vision Mooncoin on Thursday, March 7. The final session runs on Monday, March 11, at Castlecomer Hall. It is hoped that interested communities will turn out in numbers at their nearest meeting point.
Selected towns will be invited to audit their current use of energy and carbon emissions and to develop a plan to optimise their energy sustainability, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership CEO, Declan Rice, explained. Supporting renewable energy was at the core of the 2014 – 2020 LEADER Local Development Strategy, he said.
It is hoped that the competition will spur the greater use of wood fuel and district heating systems across the county and encourage community groups and small enterprises to work together on a carbon reduction plan and more.
“A competition like this has never run in Ireland. And if it works, and we’re confident it will, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be replicated regionally, nationally or transnationally. What we’re asking communities in Kilkenny to do is to plan for optimal use of the available local sources of renewable energy as well as carbon reduction proposals.”
Selected towns will be invited to audit their current use of energy and carbon emissions and to develop a plan to optimise their energy sustainability, Mr Rice added. “While many interested communities may want to compete, they may feel they lack the professional expertise to deliver their plan. LEADER will make funds available towards the development of those energy and carbon audits and optimisation plans.
“The multi-disciplinary 3CEA team will be the technical support provider. They will help communities to draft their specifications for the plans and in the assessment of those plans. At the end of the process, one of the towns will be offered the opportunity to apply for resources to become Kilkenny’s Sustainable Energy Town,” he added.
LEADER’s Christine Walshe added: “We strongly encourage interested communities, businesses and individuals to come together to embrace this. The information evenings will give an introduction to the initiative and make it clear what we expect of them, the timelines involved etc. We will also explain in detail the technical support which will be made available through 3CEA.”
Energy Engineer with 3CEA, Jane Wickham, said: “We work with householders, businesses, industry and communities across the three counties of Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford and know there is an appetite out there to become more energy efficient and reduce harmful emissions. What is often lacking is the technical expertise and financial support. This initiative offers competing communities both. We look forward to engaging with participating groups and making Kilkenny one of Ireland’s most sustainable energy hubs for generations to come.”
Six years ago, KLP launched a similar competition – the Kilkenny Town of Food. Thomastown won out as the community that best highlighted a culture of food appreciation, education and training. It received substantial grant aid for capital works as well as food related training and education programmes, marketing assistance and other expert support.