Communities can produce own energy

Duncan Stewart

Published 05/02/2014 | 05:28

THERE is massive potential for local communities in Ireland to produce a large portion of their own energy needs.

THERE is massive potential for local communities in Ireland to produce a large portion of their own energy needs.

For their heat, transport and power, by setting up local community co-ops that can deliver their own energy requirements from energy efficiency and local renewable sources.

This would keep money, circulating in the local community that's currently being drained from the local economy. The communities that engage in this would save huge amounts money, by installing energy efficiency measures and insulation retrofits to buildings, and harnessing local renewable sources.

It would stimulate small enterprises to be initiated locally and provide long-term livelihoods for skilled young people in the local community catchment. It would reduce unemployment and provide a rewarding choice for new careers for young people as a real alternative to emigration. Currently, less than 1% of most local community's energy needs, is produced locally, and on average, only about 2% of local food produce.

This week's (Tuesday) episode of 'Eco Eye' on RTE One is on the topic of Sustainable Energy Communities and will feature a number of different projects.

One is the The potential for the Aran Islands to switch from being currently dependent 100% on imports of all their energy requirements, to being 100% self sufficient and even a net exporter of green electricity to the mainland.

The show also visits North Tipperary to see how small communities, are already taking action on home energy retrofits, wood fuel, stoves, and the first community wind-farm in Ireland.

It will also visit an Austrian town that has well-established its green energy credentials and discover how they have mainstream this so successfully.

The TV programme hopes to act as a launching pad for the nationwide 'Get-Involved' community competition that was set up last year by the local newspaper associations.

From this year onwards, the national competition will focus on communities setting up co-operatives in local energy and local food production for local needs, protecting natural water bodies and enhancing biodiversity, new initiatives in 'eco-tourism' and innovative sustainable enterprises.

If you have an idea for setting any of these community activities in collaboration with local householders, farmers and small businesses, then contact the editor of your local weekly newspaper or regional newspaper.

The competition will commence in February and starts with a local or county run competition with entrants from within each newspaper's readership area. The local winners will then go forward to compete in the national awards, which will be presented before the end of 2014.

Drogheda Independent

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