The publication of the Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2021 by Government last week was broadly welcomed by the stakeholders working to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and the resulting environmental damage that they cause.
3 Counties Energy Agency (3cea) are positively enthused by the continued effort and commitment to solving the most pressing problem facing civilisation with a particular focus on de-carbonising the Irish energy system. 3cea also welcome the continuing focus on enabling communities, seeing this as important to the future management of our energy provision and use. But they also urge some caution.
CAP 2019 included an annexe with 183 specified actions, each with a timeline and specification of who was responsible for implementing the change. CAP 2021 lists 475 required actions. Paddy Phelan, CEO of 3cea, notes an important change.
3cea CEO Paddy Phelan on the ‘The Way It Is Show’ with Sue Nunn on KCLR:
He also notes that for Home Retrofit the plan has kept the same target numbers and points out that to date this is not happening. In 2021 only a small percentage of planned domestic retrofits were achieved leaving a substantial overhang. This cannot be blamed on Covid. There is a resource shortage and the cost of materials has increased.
Paddy Phelan welcome the commitment in the Local Authority sector to retrofitting street lighting. He cites major achievements in the South East.
Kilkenny County Council retrofitted 60 percent of street lighting in the city in 2016 using an energy performance green procurement pilot. 3cea are delighted to see this extended to see 100 per cent in the next 2 or 3 years to that all public area lighting in Carlow, Kilkenny and Waterford committed to having public lamps retrofitted.
The Danone plant in Wexford is another shining example. It has become the first zero-carbon milk powder manufacturer plant in the world.
“The key point here is that the changes are at the community level,” says Mr Phelan.
“Local industry can convert using biomass supplied by local farmers. Local farmers are generating income from their woodlands and not the business as usual multinational oil producers. Policymakers need to learn from this type of best practice example. Bioenergy (biomass, biogas, biofuels) can all be supplied by the local agriculture sector. This makes agriculture a strong potential solution provider to the decarbonisation of our energy system.”
Local solutions feature strongly in 3cea thinking pointing out that a town like Callan could become net energy positive from locally sourced energy sources by 2030. Callan Energy Community was one of the successful applicants to the Community Specific Renewable Energy Support Scheme auction of 2020.
“This is one of our targets. We believe it is achievable,” said Mr Phelan.
“But Government needs to provide money for the ‘negative business’ cases in the plan, and not primarily on the ‘stand-alone’ business cases if we are to make this happen. For example, we need to invest in biomethane. This is a rural solution that requires investment but could be used successfully alongside the beef, pig and poultry sectors. Ireland needs to start to invest in the 40 per cent of projects of this type, technologies that need additional support and that do not have a stand-alone economic business case.”
Emissions and Energy Data Observatory for emissions & energy data for Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford See Energyhub.ie