Tuesday 15 October 2019

District heating systems and efficient public lighting among projects awarded €77m under Climate Action Fund

Power supply for electric car charging. Electric car charging station. Close up of the power supply plugged into an electric car being charged.
Power supply for electric car charging. Electric car charging station. Close up of the power supply plugged into an electric car being charged.

Paul Melia Environment Editor

DISTRICT heating systems for Dublin, hybrid trains, an electric car charging network and more efficient public lighting are among the flagship projects awarded €77m this morning in the first round of funding under the Climate Action Fund.

Seven projects which will reduce emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year will benefit, with the Government saying the €77m in funding would leverage an additional €220m in private sector funding.

The seven projects are:

  • €10m for ESB eCars to develop a national vehicle charging network.
  • €8.5m to Gas Networks Ireland to support a facility which allows renewable gas to be injected into the grid.
  • Up to €20m to develop the Dublin District Heating System, utilising waste heat from the Poolbeg Incinerator to heat homes and businesses.
  • Another €4.5m is being allocated to South Dublin County Council to develop a district heating system.
  • €15m for Irish Rail to trial hybrid engines on its fleet.
  • €17.5m to upgrade 326,000 public lights to high-efficiency LED.
  • A further €1.4m to reduce fuel consumption across the freight industry.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the €22bn investment package planned in the National Development Plan demonstrated a commitment to tackle climate change.

“We know the challenge presented by climate change requires more than investment,” he said. “The transition to a low carbon world will require profound vhanges in how we live our lives.

“And that will only be possible with the buy-in of communities and individuals, so we want the climate action fund to empower communities, industry, researchers, the public sector and citizens to take ownership of climate action efforts.”

The proposals include development of six high speed charging hubs on motorways capable of  charging eight vehicles simultaneously, and additional chargers at 34 other locations.

The Poolbeg District Heating System has the capacity to power 50,000 homes, while investment in the public lighting network will lead to a dramatic reduction in emissions and costs.

The carbon savings of 200,000 tonnes a year represent a cut of some 0.33pc of national emissions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that “no-one pretended” that one announcement would solve Ireland’s climate problem, adding that even if the State reduced emissions to zero it would be a “drop in the ocean”, and that other actions were required.

Asked if all ministers should drive hybrid or electric cars, to demonstrate leadership, he said he had asked if hybrid cars could be provided to the Taoiseach, Tanáiste, President and Justice Minister, all of whom have garda drivers.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe added that most ministers leased their cars, and he looked forward to examining the ‘hybrid opportunity’ when renewing the lease on his vehicle.

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