In recent years, we have seen communities working together to improve their energy use and brining citizens along on the decarbonisation journey. Communities will be central to our response to climate action.
Ireland Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2019 has a strong focus on community engagement and community participation in renewable energy generation through the Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC) Programme and the Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS). In addition, there is support available to community groups through the Better Energy Communities.
Sustainable Energy Communities
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) runs SEC Programme which is focused on empowering communities. Under the programme, SECs can sign up to a three-year partnership where they will be supported and guided by SEAI mentors through planning for their energy future. Driven by collaboration, there are over 300 communities currently using the network to share knowledge, advice, case studies and development tools with other communities. Under the Climate Action Plan, the government aims to expand the SEC Network to 1,500 communities throughout Ireland.
3cea are regional coordinators for the southeast working closely with county mentor in each of the four counties – Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow and Waterford. 3cea filled a similar role under the last SEC programme 2016 – 2019, where we worked closely with SECs to develop a strong community network in the region. There are currently 34 SEC members in the 3 counties at different stages of the journeys.
There is funding through this programme for communities to complete an Energy Master Plan for their community, for more information read more here.
Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS)
The RESS is key to delivering on Irelands commitments of 70% RES-E target, through harnessing our natural resources and bringing renewable energy into the heart of our communities. Under this scheme, communities can benefit in two ways through participating in renewable energy projects in their local area.
Firstly, all projects looking for support under the new RESS will need to meet pre-qualification criteria of community involvement where the community is given the opportunity to invest in and take ownership of a portion of renewable projects in their local area. Secondly, there is a community led element to the RESS where 30GWh of projects will be allocated to community led renewable energy initiatives. To be part of this process communities need to be part of the SEAI SECs programme.
The BEC offers a win-win grant aid solution for parish halls, GAA clubs, farmers, charitable organisations, community groups, public authorities, individuals, and businesses to both lower their energy bills while reducing energy usage. All projects must be community oriented, and you must show that you can sustainably finance the proposed project.
Up to 50% funding will be available for community/not for profit projects and up to 30% funding for businesses, public sector, charitable organisations and housing associations.
Upgrades can take place across building types to reduce energy use and costs throughout the community.
Energy Efficiency upgrades supported by the BEC scheme:
• Building Fabric Upgrades (wall insulation, energy-smart walls and doors)
• Technological Improvements (boiler replacement or controls upgrades)
• Energy Efficient Lighting
• Renewable Energy Solutions (wind turbines, biomass and solar PV systems)
• Domestic Combined Fabric Upgrades
• Heat Recovery solutions
For any BEC related queries please email firstname.lastname@example.org
South East Sustainable Energy Communities Webinar Series
In September and October of 2020, we successfully ran a series of webinars for Communities to be part of the Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC) Programme.
The aim of these events was to provide basic information and introduce community groups from the South East to the SEC programme, highlighting the recruitment process, community engagement, grants, and funding opportunities. The guest speakers from each webinar provided helpful tips on everything from, how to register as a community for the SEC programme to what exactly you need to be a successful community group.
The webinar series encouraged communities in the South East of the country to engage with the SEC programme. The informative events took place online with each event focusing on a separate topic.
SEC Webinar Series:
22nd September: Recruitment – Jane Wickham, Former Southeast SEC Coordinator
29th September: Community Engagement – Fiona O’Loughlin, Wexford SEC Mentor
3cea can work with Community groups through the sustainable energy communities programme. Please contact 3cea as your regional coordinator.
Community groups are eligible for grant funding of up to 50% towards energy efficiency upgrades. We are actively seeking community groups to participate in the 2021 Better Energy Communities scheme.
3cea can project manage the entire works for you through the BEC pipeline – from initial application to final sign-off. Get in contact today and include a short description of the project you have in mind.