Communities putting shoulder to wheel with renewable energy projects

More communities than ever before are coming together to develop renewable energy projects in their own localities, according to a Kilkenny-based energy engineer.

Gráinne Kennedy of independent energy agency 3cea (3 Counties Energy Agency) said that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation has experienced one of its busiest years on record in terms of the growing number of community groups that they are working with to reduce their energy costs and cut down on harmful carbon emissions:

“What we have particularly noticed in recent years is a dramatic increase in community groups and organisations who are actively seeking information on how to undertake energy efficiency retrofits – be they community centres, sports clubs, parish committees, childcare centres, community health organisations such as organisations that provide accommodation and supports to the elderly, national schools …. the list is growing by the week.

“It’s a win-win situation for these groups and organisations. Through the SEAI Sustainable Energy Community programme that 3cea delivers, they’re supported with capital funding, partnerships and technical support on energy saving projects. And now with the introduction of the government’s Renewable Energy Support Scheme, communities can set up their own solar farm or wind farm and sell that power to the national grid. Given that so many communities are taking an interest in their carbon footprint, the demand for information about community renewable energy projects has never been greater.”

To meet this demand, 3cea with the support of Kilkenny LEADER Partnership has organised a two-part online webinar aimed specifically at community groups in Kilkenny who are interested in developing a renewable energy project. The event takes place at 9.30am and 10.45am on Tuesday, 22nd June through Zoom and community groups and representatives can register for this FREE online webinar at http://bit.ly/KilkennyGridStudy.

The first session, hosted by Rory Mullan of electrical engineering consultancy Mullan Grid Consulting, will discuss the findings of a recent grid study carried out in the Kilkenny area. All energy produced by a renewable energy project must be transported via the grid to homes and businesses across the country. For a community renewable energy project to be feasible there must be capacity available in the grid to take the energy produced. This session will help attendees to identify if there is an opportunity to connect to the grid in their area. They can also see where the ideal location for a renewable energy project would be.

Part two of the webinar will be presented by Tom Bruton, of BioXl, an energy consultancy with expertise in renewable energy. It will look at the key steps and considerations a community must take in the development of a renewable energy project, such as securing land rights, constraint mapping, planning assessments and submission, grid application submission, payment milestones, qualifying and tendering for auction, preparing legal structures and community investment proposals.

* For any queries on this event, please contact Mari or Patrick on events@3cea.ie

For more information on 3cea’s range of community programmes, visit our Community page here.

Energee Watch Training Begins June 11th

Energee Watch is a network of organisations that exchange on the collection, monitoring, and dissemination of climate and energy data at the local and regional levels. The project builds on the Covenant of Mayors SECAP guidelines and was set up to assist cities and regions with implementing, monitoring, and verifying sustainable policies and climate action. Energee Watch Training begins June 11th for those that have registered for the first cycle. Registration for the first cycle is unfortunately closed.

When working towards targets such as the Horizon 2020 targets, policies are ordinarily set at the national level and Monitoring & Verification (M&V) is often not possible. This is because Local Authorities have varying levels of skills and abilities in planning, implicating, and monitoring. As a result, the European effort is a disjointed one with local restrictions impeding progress. Energee Watch (Funded by Horizon 2020) looks to overcome these issues. It is a peer-to-peer learning programme for cities and regions to timely and actively define, monitor, and verify sustainable energy and climate action. Energee Watch brings on several experienced regional energy agencies, a European network of cities, a not-for-profit- research organisation, and a university.

The main goals of Energee Watch are:

  • Share experiences and best practices in data collection, monitoring, verification, and dissemination of energy and climate data amongst GHG monitoring organizations, local and regional authorities​.
  • Build capacity of regional authorities in monitoring and verification practices for adaptation and mitigation actions​
  • Peer-to-peer learning programme and improve the replicability and comparability of measurement and verification practices

Peer-to-Peer Learning

The main outputs of Energee Watch revolve around its Training Courses, the first of which starts on June 11th for the Masterclass. Each year for the next three years there will be 4 courses, each course having its own expert mentor. Organisations have been asked to apply to receive this training, with only one person from each organisation allowed to join each course. The mentees for the first round of courses have already been selected but there will be an opportunity to join future rounds in the next two years. Each year, feedback will be taken from the mentees for monitoring and to improve the peer learning programme. The monitoring is to identify knowledge gaps and to ensure the learning programme is reaching its target. It also assists mentees with future replication of the training in their region’s own SECAP.

The first cycle Energee Watch training begins June 11th  and will be online-only run through the Veri online Platform. The four courses on this cycle are:

  • Course 1: Data collection (acquisition and treatment) – Mentored by Energy agency of Savinjska, Šaleška and Koroška region (KSSENA)
  • Course 2: Monitoring, reporting, verification: follow up on the implementation of actions – Mentored by Cyprus Energy Agency (CEA)
  • Course 3: Indicators and strategies on adaptation to climate change – Mentored by Regional energy agency of the Ile de France (IPR)
  • Course 4: Data display, dissemination, and validation by local authorities – Mentored by Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Energie Environnement (AURA-EE)

During this time, 3cea will be acting as the administrator for the online platform. This platform is only available to those partaking in Energee Watch.

Applications to the second cycle should open in late 2021/early 2022. Keep an eye on the 3cea website and social media for this. You can also sign up for our Newsletter here which will keep you up to date on Energee Watch and more. For more information on the Energee Watch project, see our dedicated website page.

Home Energy Upgrade

Homeowners highlight the benefits of upgrading their home

Homeowners report a major increase in warmth and comfort levels following their recent home energy upgrade projects.

Five homeowners, who recently upgraded their homes with 3cea, share their insights from undergoing a home energy upgrade project. The homeowners provide helpful tips and advice to those who are considering a similar project, while highlighting the benefits of an energy upgrade.

Sandy & Kevin’s Home

Sandy and Kevin were interested in upgrading their Waterford home and described their motivation for such a project. “We were keen to have a home that was warm and also environmentally friendly – as far as possible.”

Energy Upgrade

Sandy & Kevin’s Home

Sandy and Kevin describe how their home feels after the completion of the energy upgrades. “On the one hand it feels like a new house, it is cosy and there is always hot water, but it doesn’t really get stuffy either. On the other hand, it has retained the atmosphere from before. It was a much-loved family home for decades before the upgrade and that feeling has not been lost.”

Rachel & Denis’ Home

Rachel and Denis upgraded their Co. Kilkenny home with multiple measures to improve their energy rating and to reach the maximum comfort levels. “It was the cold of the house that motivated us to upgrade to the highest energy rating possible so that the house would be comfortable for us. We also wanted the heating system of the house to be environmentally friendly and economical.”

Home Energy Upgrade

Rachel & Denis’ Home

Following the completion of the works, Rachel and Denis were delighted with their upgraded home. “Our home is now warm all the time, with constant hot water and ventilation. It is a pleasure to live in! Triple glazed windows mean we have no noise from the animals outside, especially the crows!!”

Helen’s Home

Helen upgraded her home in Kilkenny City and explains how her home energy upgrade journey began. “In 2018 we purchased an old 1930s built house in need of major renovation.” Prior to any renovation or energy upgrade works, Helen describes the standard of her home. “The house was almost uninhabitable. Windows were rotten, no insulation, a decrepit heating system. But the structure of the house was good.”

Home Energy Upgrade

Helen’s Home

Following the implementation of multiple energy upgrades, Helen noticed a significant difference in the home. “The house went from being uninhabitable to a warm, comfortable and cosy home all year round that’s very economical to run. We increased the BER from an E to an A2.”

Eddie’s Home

Eddie upgraded his Co. Wexford home with 3cea in 2019. His motivation for this home energy upgrade project was to upgrade the entire home to a modern and comfortable condition, as the home needed a complete renovation. “When we purchased the house in 2017 it had been unoccupied since 2011. The only heating was an open fire and there was no insulation whatsoever.” With a considerable amount of work involved in the project, Eddie explains what his expectations were prior to the energy upgrades. “We didn’t really consider a target. We just wanted to make the house as comfortable as possible.”

Home Energy Upgrade

Eddie’s Home

Following the installation of energy upgrades, Eddie highlights the significant changes he noticed in his home. “The comfort levels in the house are excellent and our BER went up to an A2. The only energy bill we have is our ESB bill. It is early days yet, but it is very low so far.” Eddie now describes his home after the upgrades as “warm, bright and comfortable.”

Alan’s Home

Alan was motivated to improve the energy rating of his home in Dublin for the betterment of his family’s comfort levels, while also being aware of the impact his home had on the environment. “We wanted to live in a warm, comfortable and sustainable home for a young family with two small kids. Reducing our carbon emissions was also a factor.”

Energy Upgrade

Energy Upgrades Example – External Insulation & Solar PV

The family were over the moon with their new and improved home, and when describing the home following the works Alan said “our home achieved a super A1 rating. Overall, the home is extremely energy efficient. We are now using renewable power through the Solar PV with our smart home technology.”

To homeowners who are considering a home energy upgrade project of their own, Alan recommends “to trust the experts and choose an energy specialist like 3cea who will guide you through the process. It makes sense to upgrade from fossil fuels and you will save money/payback over time. 3cea are very knowledgeable with good communication throughout the works.”

 To read each story in full, visit our Home Energy Upgrade Stories here.

Home Energy Upgrade Journey

Homeowner Journey

We at 3cea offer homeowners a One Stop Shop service. We will guide homeowners every step of the way, from our initial home assessment right through to the completion of the project. We are listed as a trusted, project coordinator to deliver SEAI‘s National Home Retrofit Scheme and we can apply on behalf of the homeowner for grant funding of up to 35%.

To learn more about starting your journey towards a warmer, comfortable home, visit our Home Energy Upgrade – One Stop Shop.

If you are interested in taking the first step on the journey, you can fill in this form with your home’s details and a member of our Housing Team will be in touch.

Kilkenny County Council

Kilkenny County Council achieve ISO 50001 Certification

Kilkenny County Council recently achieved ISO 50001 Standard for their energy use, guiding the council to the 50% energy efficiency improvement target set for 2030.

The ISO 50001 certification is a global standard for energy use and energy consumption. It recognises Kilkenny County Council‘s commitment to continuously improve their energy performance.

Kilkenny County Council ISO

Paddy Phelan, CEO for 3cea, Cllr. Andrew McGuinness, Cathaoirleach, Kilkenny County Council, and Anne Marie Shortall, Senior Executive Officer, Environment, Kilkenny County Council PICTURE: Vicky Comerford

Andrew McGuinness, Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, welcomed the news of the ISO 50001 certification.

“I am delighted that the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) following an extensive audit have confirmed that the Council’s energy systems comply with the ISO 50001 standard,” he said.

“This is the culmination of many years of work by the staff of Kilkenny County Council, in particular the energy team who have worked hard to achieve the standard and I commend them for their efforts.”

Senior staff in all departments in the council participate in their energy team. The energy team play a significant role in the management of energy from their office buildings, to public lighting and the council’s fleet of vehicles.

We at 3cea were delighted to support Kilkenny County Council in their journey to achieving the ISO 50001 energy standard.

Collette Byrne, Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council, highlighted the role each member in the council plays when it comes to energy management.

“Our commitment to improving energy performance is reflected in our Energy Policy and in our Climate Action Charter,” she said.

“The ISO 50001 standard will help us deliver the target of 50% improvement in energy efficiency over the next 10 years as set in the National Climate Action Plan.”

In terms of energy efficiency, Kilkenny County Council have also achieved the 33% target set for Local Authorities in 2020. This achievement, along with the most recent ISO 50001 accreditation, puts the council in a great position to tackle the ambitious targets set for 2030.

To continuously improve, the council take on many tasks such as, tracking energy consumption, setting energy targets, undertaking energy audits and looking to increase energy efficiency.

Over the years, Kilkenny County Council have conducted various projects to improve their energy performance. One such project is the Public Lighting Energy Efficiency project where the council upgraded 11,000 public lights across the county with more energy efficient LED lanterns (over 50% completed to date).

Similar projects include the upgrading of their buildings with improved heating systems and upgraded building fabric; energy saving controls and sensor systems installed in council offices and for their transport fleet, the council implemented an eco- driver training programme.

To learn more about how we support Local Authorities, visit our Public Sector page here.

ISO 50001

ISO 50001 Certification for Wexford County Council

Supported by 3 Counties Energy Agency, Wexford County Council has achieved the globally recognised international energy management standard, ISO 50001, becoming more advanced in optimising their energy efficiency.

The ISO 50001 standard was developed to support public and private sector organisations committed to efficient energy management providing the most robust framework for achieving cost and carbon emission reductions. It demonstrates that Wexford is taking a systematic and logical approach in its responsibility to continually improvement energy management as part of Climate Action goals and commitments.

Commenting on the council’s energy management and ISO50001 certification,Councillor Ger Carthy, Cathaoirleach, Wexford County Council said ‘We are very proud to achieve this standard. In achieving this international accreditation energy performance improvement is on the top of the agenda for the organisation and I commend all involved for the great work done to date. Wexford County Council has committed to effective energy management and will meet 2020 public sector energy efficiency targets and has improved performance by 29% in 2019 when compared to the 2009 baseline period. The ISO50001 certification will be the basis of formulating a pathway to reach energy efficiency and carbon target for 2030 and beyond’.

Tom Enright, Chief Executive of Wexford County Council said ‘achieving this standard is a significant accomplishment given the diversity of services that local authorities offer. We are focused and fully committed to continuously improving energy performance in all our operations. This year will see the completion of an extensive public lighting upgrade resulting in significant energy and operational costs savings. Upon completion approximately 97% of the public lights within the county will have been converted to high efficiency LED technology.’

Read more

Easter

Happy Easter!

10 ways to be sustainable this Easter weekend

Switch off!

Remember to turn the TV off after use. Leaving devices on standby wastes energy and can increase your electricity bills. A simple tip to reduce your energy consumption: if it’s not being used, switch it off. The same applies to lights, other household appliances and even your car. Switching off your car when you stop or pull over can reduce your carbon emissions, as leaving your engine idling can have an impact on your environment.

Open up your blinds

Opening up your blinds or curtains can brighten up your home. Use as much natural light as possible before switching on lights or lamps. Plus you can enjoy some more sunshine (while we have it!).

Turn down the heating

Try to keep your heating switched off for as long as possible. When you do get cold, try wearing an extra jumper or wrap up in a cosy blanket.

Recycle those Easter Eggs

After you’ve eaten all of your Easter eggs, you may be left with a lot of packaging. Remember to recycle the appropriate materials and correctly place them in the designated bin. Visit the EPA website for more recycling tips.

Get walking

Over this Easter weekend, swap in a walk instead of a drive when travelling within your 5km. Walking off the Easter eggs will benefit your health and wellbeing too.

Switch to reusable water bottle

When out and about, why not bring a reusable water bottle with you instead of buying single use plastic bottles. This is a simple change that anyone can make to live more sustainably.

Don’t forget your reusable grocery bags

Bring a reusable bag when you go shopping this weekend. Keep a few in the car or near the front door of your home so you don’t forget.

Buy your food locally

A shorter food chain can reduce waste before it reaches your home. Try buying your food this weekend from your local supermarket who supports food producers in your area.

Avoid food waste

Over the weekend, try to avoid food waste as much as possible. You can reduce your food waste by planning your meals in advance, saving your leftovers, and learning how to properly store food.

Spread the word

When speaking with friends and family this weekend, spread the word on your sustainable activities. Opening up the conversation on sustainability will help others to develop a new frame of mind. Setting an example for others can be both powerful and influential.

From all of us here at 3cea, we wish you and your family a very Happy Easter weekend!

500 Communities

Over 500 Communities engaging in SEAI Sustainable Energy Community Network

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) announced an increase in community groups joining their Sustainable Energy Communities Network.

SEAI recently reported that there has been higher engagement with their Sustainable Energy Communities Network as many new communities across Ireland have become Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) this year.

Over 500 communities have become SEC members, with up to 25,000 citizens making a difference in their locality. Each of these SEC groups are progressing towards a low carbon future by implementing energy efficient measures in all aspects of the community, including their homes, shops, sports clubs and community buildings. Read more from SEAIs announcement here.

Of the 500 communities engaging in the SEC Programme, we at 3cea are delighted to see that over 60 of the communities are from the South East Region. Take a look at the SEC Map on the SEAI website to find your community.

For more information on community programmes and successful projects, visit: https://3cea.ie/sectors/community/

 

Home Retrofit

3cea partner with ERI to provide home retrofit service for homeowners in the South East

3 Counties Energy Agency have partnered with ERI Managed Energy Solutions to deliver SEAI’s National Home Retrofit Scheme.

Homeowners in the South East of Ireland who wish to improve their home’s BER rating are being advised to apply for a new retrofit scheme which offers 35% grant aid.

Stephen Harte, Managing Director of ERI, offers his expertise on the new retrofitting scheme.

Stephen, the founder of ERI, has an Engineering qualification from University of Limerick with 30 years’ experience in the building and commercial sectors.

ERI specialises in helping homeowners with deep energy retrofits. Since starting in 2007, ERI  have carried out over 1,000 building energy assessments and consulted on hundreds of low energy construction projects.” 

In the last five years Stephen has spent three years as Project Manager for the deep retrofit scheme from its inception as a pilot in 2015 through to 2018. Stephen has also been involved in the management of over 150 end to end whole house retrofits in that time.

What is the National Home Retrofit Scheme?  Read more

3cea CEO Paddy Phelan discusses Microgeneration on Morning Ireland

3cea were asked to participate in a radio interview on microgeneration for the Morning Ireland show on RTE 1 Radio this morning.

The news piece featured on the show between 7 and 8am with a panel of speakers discussing the benefits to microgeneration.

The news piece included insights from Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, 3 Counties Energy Agency CEO Paddy Phelan, Tommy O’Shea of O’Shea Farms, Piltown Co. Kilkenny and Dara Lynott, CEO of the Electricity Association of Ireland.

Listen to the interview in full here.

 

 

Sustainable Regions in Action 2021

FEDARENE have recently launched their “Sustainable Regions in Action” yearly publication which offers a look into the projects European regions and their energy agencies are implementing. 

The most recent edition of the annual publication highlights the work of local and regional authorities, island states and the energy agencies within each of them.

FEDARENE provide an overview of their activities over the past year and their perspectives for the future. A selection of their members’ most inspiring projects are also included. These projects are divided in 12 categories including:

  • Adapting and planning in times of climate crisis;
  • Accelerating Island’s Energy Transition;
  • Energy communities: citizens’ action for cleaner energy;
  • Financing responsible projects for a brighter future;
  • Enhancing Industry and SMEs’ responsibility;
  • Setting up energy efficiency measures;
  • Sustaining Renewables Sources;
  • Highway to Eco-mobility;
  • Tackling Energy Poverty;
  • Circular Economy;
  • Healthy Environment, Healthy Citizens!
  • Educating, training and raising awareness.

3 Counties Energy Agency feature in this publication under the Accelerating Island’s Energy Transition category. Take a look at what we shared on page 19.

Read the publication here: Sustainable Regions in Action 2021