How to Save Cash on Your Energy Bills

Original article was written by Paul Deane for RTE

Reducing energy use is the most immediate measure we can do to reduce our exposure to high energy bills

Energy prices are at an all time high, as international oil and gas prices rise in response to the invasion in Ukraine and wider global issues. Ireland is one of the most fossil fuel dependant countries in Europe, spending on average €20 million each day importing fossil fuels from abroad. The consequence of this high reliance is reflected in our high transport, heating, and electricity bills.

Saving energy and reducing our energy use is the most immediate measure we can do to reduce our exposure to high energy bills. At a local level, a typical family of four will spend between €6,000 and €7,000 per year on energy. Half of this will be on petrol or diesel for the car, with the balance split between home heating and electricity.

But it must be remembered that many people – especially the sick, elderly, and vulnerable – have a much higher exposure and less ability to change energy use and these people need targeted financial protection from the government. However, a high portion of the population can financially benefit from saving energy and the tips below are for families and individuals who are in good health.

Can you save money on your car?

About one-third of the petrol and diesel we put into our cars over the year in Ireland is used for short trips of less than 8km. If we can avoid one in five of these trips, we would save between €300 to €500 per year. Trips can be avoided by cycling, walking, carpooling and lift sharing with neighbours (i.e. on the school drop) and trying to double up on trips. The pandemic also allowed many employers and workers to try remote working and maintaining this practice will significantly reduce the amount we spend on fuel for our cars.

If you do have to travel a long distance on a motorway, driving a little slower will save you money. Driving at 100 kph rather than 120 kph on a round trip from Cork to Dublin will save you €10 in fuel costs, while the trip will take an extra 50 minutes.

Heating up

Unfortunately, Ireland has a poor housing stock, with most homes wasting more heat than usefully using it. A house built in the 1990s with oil central heating costs a family about five times more annually to heat than the same sized house built in recent times using a modern electric heat pump. The Government offer generous grants for improving insulation and new heating systems, but these are still financially out of reach for many families.

However, controlling the heat required by adjusting the thermostat can give big savings for families who can do this. Reducing the internal thermostat from 21 degrees to 18 degrees will save between €400 and €500 each year

Families who use oil for central heating should regularly check with local suppliers and try to avail of discounts or lower prices that can occur over summer months when demand for oil is low.

The story with appliances

Just five appliances are responsible for about half of our electricity use so using these less will have a positive impact on reducing your electricity bill. If you use an electric shower, this will likely be the appliance that costs you most so taking a shorter shower will save you money.

While a lot of focus is sometimes on plugging out TVs, phones and tablets etc, the overall financial impact of these actions is relatively small. Modern appliances are mandated to use very little power on standby mode so focusing on appliances that use most electricity will offer the biggest savings.

The government launched a strategy last week with more information on how to reduce energy use. An important social element across communities is to check in on elderly and vulnerable neighbours to see they are prepared for the months ahead. The strategy must be clear from a national perspective: protect those who can’t afford to reduce consumption, and encourage those who can.

Going Green for Business : Waterford Chamber

As part of Waterford Chambers ‘Green Month’ in May, 3CEA are excited to take part in Going Green for Business event. We will be presenting on funding opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for businesses, communities and homeowners in the Waterford area.

You will also hear from Owen Power of Enerpower on the latest energy offerings and from Energia on practical implementation without disruption to business. We will also have a number of industry agencies and professionals on site to discuss your needs.

The event is free and will help you along your own sustainable journey. Waterford Chamber is committed to the UN Sustainability Goals and a key stakeholder of the Waterford Green Deal initiative. Please join us as we work together for a better Waterford for everyone.

Register for FREE here

 

Wexford’s Transition to Electric Vans

In November 2021, the same month as COP26, the Department of Transport in Ireland published and launched the Climate Action Plan of 2021. This plan sets out a pathway that will transform how we travel with decarbonisation creating a cleaner greener transport system. Transport causes 18% of our carbon emissions. The plan sets out a pathway towards achieving a 51% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. It will be updated annually, and it outlines the steps required over the next 9 years to radically transform the way you travel and with that our move towards a fully decarbonised transport sector. There are over 70 actions in the transport chapter of the plan however the key metrics or tactical initiatives identified for and up to 2030 are as follows:

Suffice to say – we are entering a period of rapid and unparalleled change in the transport sector.  The International Energy Agency reports that it expects global transport to double, however, major technological innovations can help offset this rise in demand. As the world shifts towards lower-carbon electricity sources, the rise of electric vehicles and the development of biofuel alternatives offer a viable option to reduce emissions.

Decarbonising Wexford

Wexford County Council are committed to addressing their environmental impact, conserving resources and improving their bottom line through efficient energy management. Certification for the international, best practice Energy Management Standard ISO 50001 was achieved last year further paving the way towards better energy efficiency and carbon targets for 2030 and beyond. Wexford County Council achieved over 39% improvement in energy performance up to 2020 exceeding the 33% target (as outlined in the SEAI public sector Annual report 2021 published in February 2022).

Electric Vehicles

Wexford County Council own and operate a fleet of over 250 vehicles to carry out their service delivery plan to the county. They are leading the way in the drive towards decarbonising their working fleet. It is estimated that 12-15% of the fleet of 250 vehicles is considered suitable to change over to EV

The first EV was purchased three years ago. There are now six fully electric vans servicing the county, three electric forklifts have replaced three diesels. One van has been placed at Wexford County Hall and three are for general use in the machinery yard. Another van is being used by the fire service and lastly one by the environmental warden. Hugh Russell, the machinery yard manager, is very impressed with the vehicles saying that the EVs were first put in place as run-abouts so that staff could experience what they are like for themselves. “They have been very well received, they’re easier to use with their stop/go pedals and are a smoother and quieter drive.”

Work is ongoing to help identify the next top ten vehicles to be replaced. Issues taken into consideration include the availability of off-street parking, employee buy-in, expenses policy, human resources and industrial relations. Community warden vans are being assessed for the transition to EV and an EV pickup is coming on trial soon. This vehicle will be suitable for many applications and can tow a 750kg trailer.

Currently, Wexford County Council are also looking at developing the infrastructure needed to serve these vehicles. They are looking at perhaps leaving these vans to charge in depots, the housing section are also to come on board with requirements for small vans and the infrastructure/facilities to charge them. EV chargers are currently installed in the following locations

  1. Four Double EV Chargers fitted to WCC County Hall (1x22Kw and 3x 7kw)
  2. Three Double 7kw EV Chargers fitted to Enniscorthy Machinery yard
  3. Double 22kw EV Chargers fitted to Wexford fire station
  4. Double 22kw EV Chargers fitted to Gorey fire station
  5. Two x Double 22kw EV Chargers being fitted to Whitemills depot, Wexford at present
  6. Gorey civic office considering chargers
  7. NR & EY civic offices to be assessed for EV chargers

New Public EV charging stations are confirmed for Kilmore Quay, Curracloe and Carrigfoyle. A gap analysis will be carried out in 2022 for even more installations throughout the county.

 

Direct Comparison

The EV used by the environmental warden, an LDV Maxus e-Deliver 52.5kWh panel van replaced a diesel – 2017 Citroen Berlingo. Data from both vehicles were analysed covering a period of six months and 15,852km.

Just like petrol or diesel engine cars, the consumption of EVs depends on the model and the manufacturer, however, to measure the fuel (electricity), we calculate how many kilowatt hours it takes to move an EV from one point to another in the same way as we would calculate how many litres of petrol/diesel is used to do the same work. An electric vehicle is more energy efficient, and a cleaner source of energy given that an EV directly converts electricity into movement. A conventional petrol/diesel must burn fuel (creating heat and dirt/smoke as a by-product) and then convert that heat into motion thus making the process less efficient.

Using the same data, it was found that the EV was indeed outperforming its predecessor on every level. Emitting 39% less CO2 and using 35% less energy to do the same work. Using today’s fuel costs of €1.676/Litre for diesel and €0.240/kWh for electricity a comparison was made for the same distance over the 6-month period, a saving of €734.30 was recorded. The EV was using 19.88kWh of energy to travel 100km whereas the diesel van was using 57.06kWh to travel the same distance.

Carbon Emissions

Emissions data for the 34 diesel vans analysed in this study from May 2020 to January 2022 total 408 Tonnes of CO2. That is equivalent to the carbon emitted by driving over 1 million miles in an average petrol car and the same amount of carbon stored by 6700 newly planted trees over 10 years. The graph below shows CO2 emissions during this time. We can also see the dip in vehicle use during 2020.

CO2 emissions from a fleet of 34 diesel vans

 

Using the emission figures from the 34 diesel vans and replacing them with the emission figures of the LDV Maxus e-Deliver 52.5kWh panel van we can see a substantial drop in emissions as shown in the graph below. If all 34 vans were the same EV van, then only 90 tonnes of co2 would be produced, a drop of 317 tonnes of CO2. The 90 tonnes of CO2 would only require 1400 newly planted trees to offset their emissions compared to 6700 trees needed to offset current emissions.

CO2 Emission Comparison between the EV and the diesel-fuelled van fleet

Happy Earth Day from 3CEA

Sometimes we forget we’re floating through space on a giant rock. Let’s not forget that this rock is the only place we have to call home. This Earth Day, let’s honour our amazing little planet. The official theme of Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in our planet”, so why not get out there and make a change that will invest in the future health of our environment.

Although energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions are our every day at 3CEA, our team are taking the time today to do something different that will help make our planet that little bit healthier.

What are you doing to celebrate earth day?

Here are some ideas
🚮Litter pick around your local area, recycling what you collect
🌼Plant some pollinator-friendly plants, vegetables or a tree
🚴No car day: ditch the car and walk, cycle or use public transport
🥬Go vegan or vegetarian for the day
⛰️Go outside into nature and appreciate it

The National Energy Summit 2022

As part of the National Energy Summit 2022, 3CEA attended the Opengela Conference in Bilbao. The conference brought together industry experts and thought leaders from both the public and private sectors to find solutions to the issues facing us in securing our energy supply. It examined the programme of work that is being delivered to secure the longer-term enduring capacity that is needed to reach our 2030 targets and to meet the demands of our growing and decarbonising economy.

The conference was a great event for 3CEA to attend. It focused on the One Stop Shops and how they work at ground level with the beneficiaries. The importance of how communication and trust is developed and built was a key part of the project. The project brought us to the city of Eibar in the Basque Country to see projects which have been completed and are in the process of development. Good solid networks were created with other participants in the group and it was agreed that we would continue to work on the project and disseminate information in the future”,

Colin Simpson, Housing and Commercial delivery manager for 3cea.

Sun Harvester Second SME Awarded STEPS Voucher 2 From Ireland

The second SME Awarded STEPS Voucher 2 from the Irish cohort is Sun Harvester (Zhyphen). Based in Derry, Northern Ireland, Zhyphen was founded in 2017 by Ryan Burton, Chris Stack, and William McQuilter. The ambition was to be part of renewable energy innovation that tackles climate change both in the UK and the emerging economies of Sub-Sahara Africa. Zhyphen now prepare to install their battery solution into James Dairy Farm.

Sun Harvester’s product portfolio is innovative and is based on a turnkey approach providing energy storage systems with modular attributes. They recognise that the problem for many businesses is their energy costs. While these businesses seek energy independence, the challenge is to integrate renewable energy generation with storage and be within grid regulations especially in zones of grid restrictions due to over capacity on the local network. Zhyphen systems, with integrated energy management controls, provides solutions that enable larger solar generation linked to storage that is permissible in grid restricted zones.  The value is in generating solar power that is almost free for the business, storing this power to be used at the peak cost time for grid supply and to supplement this solar power by charging batteries overnight when prices are cheaper. The solution therefore reduces the cost of energy.

An installation of a Sun Harvester (Zhyphen) Battery

Sun Harvester signed up for STEPS “to have support in getting access to the Irish and potential European market”. Zhyphen’s issues lied around the need for having expertise in entering new markets that they weren’t experienced in. This is a common issue for SMEs in battery storage as the European market currently has a lot of competition from Asian companies exporting their solutions to Europe. STEPS seeks to solve this issue for Sun Harvester and all the SMEs that signed up for support. As a business support, 3cea have been able to give Sun Harvester access to our own network and give recommendations on how to advance.

The largest added value of STEPS is getting access to the quality of staff employed by 3cea, accessing their network of contacts and obtaining their recommendation.

Chris Stack, Co-Founder of Sun Harvester (Zhyphen)

Sun Harvester will test their battery solution in James Dairy, Kilkenny. James Dairy installed a robotic milking system in January 2018. This system comes with a 24-hr energy demand and so they installed a 7KWh solar PV system on the roof of the milking parlour. As a testbed, James Dairy will be able to see the benefits of having a battery installed on their farm and can weigh up whether it is cost-effective for them to have a battery beyond the STEPS project. They will do this by examining the reduction in energy consumption they have after the battery is installed. Sun Harvester expect to install their battery in late summer 2022 and will be able to monitor its performance for 6 months.

James Dairy Farm

Beyond STEPS, Sun Harvester want to use the Test Bed site as a catalyst to approach other farms who have similar problems to James Farm and hope to have the support of 3cea and STEPS in achieving this. They have set themselves the target of 40 – 50 dairy farms having Zhyphen technology bringing a solution to their business. Long-term, the goal is to push the James Farm solution into the GB market while look for opportunities to work with STEPS to help Sun Harvester/Zhyphen gain access to the EU market. When asked about their experience in STEPS thus far, Sun Harvester representative Chris Stack said it’s:

Genuine people offering real support and who are on your side!

You can learn more about the STEPS project by visiting our STEPS Webpage here. Also, read about our other SME awarded STEPS Voucher 2, Daretech or read about Cleantech who previously received the voucher and have since installed their battery solution in Wexford County Hall.

Irish Energy Storage SME Daretech, Awarded STEPS Voucher 2

After a number of Irish SMEs entered the STEPS Voucher 1 scheme from the second call, two are now ready to progress to the Voucher 2 scheme. The first of these is the Energy Storage SME Daretech. Based in Cork, Daretech are now ready to start testing under ‘real-life’-conditions, as they prepare to install their battery solution into the Kilkenny based O’Shea Farms.

The STEPS Business Support Programme is an Interreg NWE funded project that brings together business support and knowledge partners from Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The STEPS project aims to improve the competitiveness of northwest European battery storage SMEs. The first voucher support partners these SMEs with knowledge partners (NUIG in Ireland) to help them develop their solutions and fill any knowledge gaps they may have. The second voucher will allow a smaller number of SMEs install and test their battery solutions in real-life conditions. This allows the SME to gather data on their battery’s performance. The overall goal of these vouchers is to improve the Technological Readiness Level (TRL) of their product.

The Energy Storage SME Daretech develops smart hybrid power solutions for marine applications. They’re based at The Entrepreneurship in Cork. The Entrepreneurship is a specialised marine technology start up space within Marei, which itself is a Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine Innovation. The Centre comprises over 200 researchers focusing on defined global challenges such as Climate Action and the Blue Economy. Through the integration of locally generated renewable energy and advanced storage technology significant efficiency increases and cost reduction is accomplished while simultaneously reducing emissions in the marine environment. Daretech designs, builds and operates these smart hybrid power systems for marine applications.

Hybrid power systems can be used as a sustainable alternative to a diesel generator in any application. The system is a scalable, modular hybrid energy system that Daretech are developing for applications that do not have access to shore power or face extensive grid charges due to peak power demands. It comprises a smart battery system with a diesel generator, and optional integration of renewable energy source (solar, and/or wind). All of these elements are based on proven technology, adapted to the specific requirements of the marine environment. The system can incorporate any form of renewable energy generation that might be available at a particular user’s site. An automated control system which allows seamless operation of the hybrid system with a redundant diesel generator for backup that introduces efficiency and storage technology to the marine environment.  The operating principles of our hybrid power systems are:

  • The electrical load is usually a fraction of generator capacity.
  • Excess generator capacity is used to charge the battery system.
  • Electricity for appliances is provided from the battery system.
  • The system is fully automated between generator and battery controls.

The implementation of this technology allows the operator to both reduce their base-load power related emissions while reducing fuel consumption and either avoiding or greatly extending periods between servicing for diesel generators. The system has been specifically designed to be operated in harsh environments and provides a robust and user-friendly solution for these markets.

Daretech Battery Solution

Daretech applied to the STEPS programme “in order to leverage the expertise that was available from the Project Partners”. They had been undertaking a lot of research and development in-house, and were keen to obtain a third-party independent verification of the analysis they were performing on their benefits of operational hybrid power systems at customer sites. In voucher 1, Daretech worked with energy modelling specialists from NUI Galway taking their operational data and performing independent analysis to determine the system benefits in terms of fuel saving, emission offset, and overall return on investment. The outcome of this stage validated the quantified benefits that Daretech have provided to their customers, and the method by which we determine them.

We aim to find new markets and applications for our hybrid power systems. Our long-term goal is to bring more hybrid systems into operation to reduce costs and emissions on customer sites.

Darren Hayes, Co-Founder of Daretech

Daretech will test their battery at O’Shea Farms. O’Shea Farms is a farm based in Pilltown, Kilkenny that provides fresh vegetable produce to supermarkets across the country. This results in year-round electricity demand for refrigerated cold storage and grading equipment at their site. They currently have 250 KWp (Kilo-Watt potential) solar PVs installed on the farm that provides about 200,000 KWh a year. They are looking to add 414 KWp to two more buildings. O’Shea Farms is hoping that an energy storage solution will allow them to store excess intake during the day, which can be stored as cold storage and used to power the refrigerators for the vegetables overnight. This will give them a better return on their investment than they would get returning the energy generated to the grid.

O’Shea Farms in Pilltown, Co.Kilkenny

Daretech are set to install their battery into O’Shea Farms in late summer 2022. They will then test the battery for 6 months, while receiving support from 3cea. When asked about their experiences in the STEPS project so far, Daretech co-founder Darren Hayes said:

“The STEPS programme is an excellent support for small businesses – it’s given great access to expertise and testbeds in order to grow our understanding of the technology and demonstrate how it can meet customer needs.”

Although we will not have any more calls for SMEs to join the STEPS Business Support Programme, you can still benefit from it. If you’re an energy storage SME, check out the STEPS State of the Art report and keep an eye out for the announcement of upcoming webinars discussing some of the findings from the project. To learn more about STEPS, check out our dedicated STEPS webpage here.

jobsinkilkenny_waterford

We’re Hiring! Job vacancies in Kilkenny and Waterford

Join our growing team and help promote behaviour change to accelerate energy transition by bringing your unique energy to the team.
Current vacancies:
  • Sustainable Energy Engineer – full time position
  • Junior Energy Engineer – full time position
  • Office Administrator – part time position

Deadline for applications is Friday April 29th 2022

To apply, visit our careers page here –  download, fill and complete the 3CEA application form available and email the application form to Bill Lowe at blowe@3cea.ie

Kilkenny and Waterford Cities are the home of culture, innovation and heritage, it’s a charming place to work that attracts top talent and offers high quality of life. 3 Counties Energy Agency is committed to delivering sustainable energy solutions for everyone in the region. Join our vibrant team and help promote behaviour change to accelerate ‘energy transition’ for the South East by bringing your unique energy to the team.
3CEA is an equal opportunities employer.

THE SOUTHEAST SURPASSES ENERGY REDUCTION TARGETS AND SAVES €20M

TWO DECADES OF 3 Counties Energy Agency SUCCESS 

The County Councils of Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford working closely with 3 Counties Energy Agency (3CEA), have not only met but all exceeded the 33% energy reduction target set in the National Climate Action Plan.  

3CEA was set up in 2002, and developed partnerships with the County Councils, SMEs, Communities and citizens making their Energy Transition journey smoother. 

“It is really making a difference. 3CEA technical support ensures that project opportunities are identified and acted upon promptly where practical. The 3 Counties Energy Agency worked with the Councils’ Energy Teams to deliver projects that will deliver ongoing long term sustained energy reduction in each case resulting in a cumulative saving of €19.97M. All three Local Authorities are participating in a number of EU energy-saving projects with the assistance of 3CEA,” says Paddy Phelan, CEO of 3CEA.

Energy efficiency remains a priority to deliver further improvements and the County Councils of Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford have been joined by Waterford city and County in 2021, all with the same mission of optimising their energy efficiency actions. 

“3CEA work in collaboration with the Local Authorities to evaluate, pilot and deliver great energy and carbon saving projects across their own building, public lighting & transport stock. The role of the Local Authorities to lead by example and good examples of this partnership are projects being delivered through various national grant programmes such as the Department of Environment, Climate & Communications Climate Action Fund and the SEAI’s Community Energy Grants. These are led by the Local Authorities, coordinated and managed by the Energy Agency, who are working with the many SME’s, communities and homeowners delivering projects right across the south east. This model of partnership is key to our success and to the success of the energy transition in the South East. The Local Authorities are playing their part and have met their own 2020 targets, with projects planned to ensure they meet the more ambitious 2030 targets. We, that is society as a whole, need to change our behaviour and reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels. Everyone must play a part and 3CEA are here, to offer independent advice to all who want to make a difference,” said Alex Hamilton, 3CEA Senior Engineer.

CARLOW INCREASED EFFICIENCY BY 40%

Carlow County Council achieved 40% improvement in energy efficiency by delivering 17 energy saving projects, for example in public lighting (with long lasting LED bulbs and photocell controls saving 29,000 euro per annum), zero energy housing, and a revamp of the Carlow Fire Station heating system and addition of solar panels.

In everyday terms this is the equivalent of making 140 million cups of tea, or 63000 journeys from Malin Head to Mizen Head, a carbon emission reduction of 7000 tons. Growing numbers of homeowners are availing of grants to carry out energy upgrades and deep retrofits and the county is now 39.9% more energy efficient, beating the 33.3% target.

KILKENNY SAVED ENOUGH ENERGY TO BREW 670 MILLION CUPPAS

Kilkenny County Council saved energy for 670 million cups of tea and 59000 trips the length of the country reducing emissions by 6500 tonnes. This produced a saving of 2.6 million euro for the Council, delivering a saving of 41.6%, well above the 33.3% target. Public Lighting is the single biggest user of energy for the Council and multiple upgrades, including in the Kilkenny Machinery Yard have been carried out. Heating reduction such as in Castlecomer Library contributed to the overall energy reduction.

YOU COULD LAP WEXFORD 43,000 TIMES WITH ENERGY SAVED

Wexford saved 269 million cups of tea or the amount of energy used by a typical family petrol car doing 43000 laps of the Wexford county boundary, reducing CO2 emissions by 2149 tonnes through avoided energy use, delivering a saving of 39.7%. The spectrum of projects and initiatives implemented by the Wexford County Council to achieve energy efficiency include the public lighting energy efficiency project whereby 91% of public lights across the county were replaced with more energy efficient LED bulbs. This gave a 65% reduction in energy use and 60% savings in operation and maintenance costs. Energy upgrades in Bunclody Fire Station, Gorey Library and the Council’s Machinery Yard all delivered substantial energy savings. The Council has also started transitioning their fleet to electric vehicles to further support the national policy and decarbonise local communities making them healthier and better places to live in.

 

3CEA CEO, Paddy Phelan added that “While local authorities in the region have done much to achieve lower C02 emissions by 2030, individual counties working under the Sustainable Energy Action Plans need to step up across Transport, Agriculture, Industry and Community.”

Mobile in May: How Sustainable Energy Communities can influence transport for the better

Walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing are just some ways we can make our journeys more sustainable, but how do we improve access and infrastructure within our communities?

Join us for the Mobile in May information event series were you can find out How Sustainable Energy Communities can influence transport for the better.

The programme for this event is:
Session 1: 3rd of May at 11 am – Travelling sustainably to school

Session 2: 10th of May at 11 am – Planning for better transport where you live

Session 3: 17th of May at 11 am – Travelling on four wheels: EVs, Local Link and Car Sharing

Session 4: 24th of May at 11 am – Putting together a transport strategy

Please register here
All session recordings will be made available for anyone who registers to attend.