Pictured are Chairman of the National Advisory Council on Climate Change, Prof. John Fitzgerald, 3cea CEO, Paddy Phelan and Caroline Godkin, Acting Director of Services, Wexford County Council
A ten-fold increase in investment in energy efficiency and a commitment to grant aid all eligible projects in 2020 is required if Ireland is to meet its 2030 climate targets, experts say.
Communities, businesses, home owners and more want to be cleaner and greener and the latest grants initiative was well over-subscribed ahead of the cut-off deadline, energy engineers at the 3 Counties Energy Agency (3cea) say.
Their comments come as the low carbon experts teamed up with local authorities, business and home owners in Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford and are pooling their efforts in an all-out drive to not just meet but surpass the Government Climate Action Plan 2019 target for their Region and generate more than 70 per cent of their electrical energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.
The wholly independent 3 Counties Energy Agency (3cea) has already helped over 40 Sustainable Energy Communities incorporating homeowners, businesses, local authorities, farms and voluntary sector across Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford and further afield to slash over €15 million off their energy bills. Over the past 7 years, they’ve also helped create over 300 jobs annually, supporting rural economic recovery.
The not-for-profit 3cea team today, Friday, January 31,2020, launched a 10 year Energy Transition Strategy 2020-2030 and is confident it can make the three counties sustainable, cleaner and a national leader in delivering low carbon homes, jobs and enterprise.
Launching its 10 year strategy in Castlecomer, a former fossil fuel industry hub, 3cea in partnership with the three local authorities in its catchment area says it will help communities made up of groups of home owners, businesses, public sector, farmers and more to become a shining Irish and global example as a leader in the sustainable, efficient use of locally produced clean energy by 2030.
Speaking at the launch event, climate expert and Climate Council Advisory Council Chairman, John FitzGerald, said: “Transforming Irish society to become carbon neutral is a massive challenge. While it is the right things to do, it has to be profitable for companies and households to invest in change but they also need help advice and encouragement.
“Without this assistance, change will happen very slowly. The role of local actors such as 3cea, is to provide advice and encouragement to households who do not have the expertise to know what is the right answer. I welcome the initiatives they are taking.”
3cea CEO, Paddy Phelan, said: “A ten-fold increase in investment in Energy Efficiency is urgently needed to meet the targets by 2030 - starting with a commitment now to grant aid all eligible projects in 2020. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Beter Energy Community 2020 programme was again already well-oversubscribed, well ahead of the deadline.
“By 2030 we will be a region that has helped its energy consumers act responsibly and one that produces surplus clean energy. For the first time in 3cea’s almost 20 year history as leaders in the energy and policy space we now have a roadmap to 2030 and real clarity around our plans.
“3cea is ideally placed to be the independent trusted intermediary under the government’s Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) scheme through community benefit funds. Across the three counties, an estimated annual €4,268,703 could be generated to complete a major energy transition,” Mr Phelan added.
3cea linked up with SOS Kilkenny which provides service for adults with intellectual disabilities to shave over €3,300 off its heating and lighting bills through a series of upgrades.
Among the farm industries to save with the help of 3cea are J&M Dairies in Tipperary. It installed a PV solar system and battery storage unit and is now saving over €1,300 each year on its energy bills.
3cea recommended replacing an outdated boiler and investing in heat pumps and skylights at Wexford County Council’s machinery yard, resulting in savings of a whopping €18,300 a year. It also worked with the Wexford local authority to introduce a controlled lighting system in its civic offices, works which are saving it a further €14,500 a year.
3cea also carried out an assessment of the heating demands on Kilkenny College. It recommended installing three high efficiency condensing boilers, a new water heater and new buffer tank and heating control system. It helped the college draw down over €170,000 in grant aid. The college is now saving almost €10,000 each year on its bills.
3cea has achieved success through combining specific technical expertise and local community knowledge on hundreds of energy efficiency projects of scale since 2002. It co-ordinated the winning entries in the community category of the SEAI Best Energy Community Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2016 (as well as runner-up entries in 2015 and 2017).