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.
Better Energy Communities
Better Energy Communities is the national retrofit initiative with grant support for homeowners, community groups, and private sector organisations to achieve energy efficiency improvements. The was a fund of €20m for 2020, however, the closing date for applications in 2020 was 30th January 2020 so the programme is now closed. of up to €20 million for 2020.
Upgrades can take place across building types to reduce energy use and costs throughout the community. All projects should be community oriented with a cross-sectoral approach, and you must show that you can sustainably finance the proposed project. Community groups can access funding up to 50% of the capital costs for