Sunday 22 September 2019

Food waste will be used to heat homes under €77m climate project

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Stock picture
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Hybrid trains and the roll-out of fast chargers for electric cars are among the flagship projects to be delivered using a €77m award from the Climate Action Fund.

District heating systems to power thousands of homes and businesses and more efficient public lighting are also planned.

Seven projects allocated funding will help reduce emissions by at least 200,000 tonnes a year, with Exchequer money helping to leverage another €220m from private and other public sources.

The €500m fund forms part of the National Development Plan with nearly 100 applications for funding received. It is designed to offer innovative solutions to tackling emissions, utilising a levy paid on petroleum products.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the projects would make a real difference to emissions, and that Ireland had to play its part.

But he admitted that the State's contribution would be a "drop in the ocean" on a global scale, and action was needed to encourage big emitters such as the US, China and Russia to follow suit. "I'm committed to it personally as Taoiseach," he said. "This announcement today is one small part of it.

"We know that the challenge presented by climate change requires more than investment. The transition to a low carbon world will require profound changes in how we live our lives and that will only be possible with the buy-in of communities and individuals.

"The projects being announced today have the potential to make a real difference in the area of climate action and, most importantly, they will hit the ground running."

The projects include the installation of more than 100 fast-chargers for electric vehicles across the road network, capable of delivering an additional driving range of 100km in just six minutes. The ESB also intends upgrading and replacing existing chargers to help roll out 500,000 electric vehicles by 2030.

Irish Rail will receive €15m to trial the installation of hybrid power packs on trains, which if successful will result in 234 carriages being upgraded over time, allowing trains to operate on electric power, switching to diesel over longer distances.

Two district heating systems also received funding - the Dublin District Heating System will utilise waste heat from the Poolbeg Incinerator to heat up to 50,000 homes. New homes and businesses on the former Irish Glass Bottle site at Poolbeg will be the first to be connected from 2021, before the scheme is extended into the north Docks.

A second in Tallaght will see waste heat from an Amazon data centre used to heat local authority offices and businesses and is expected to be connected in 2020.

Gas Networks Ireland has also been allocated funding for a renewable gas injection facility in Mitchelstown, Co Cork. The gas will be generated from food and agriculture biodegradable waste, with the project capable of supplying 56,000 homes and fuel for vehicles using compressed natural gas. It will provide some 8pc of total natural gas supply.

The final two projects awarded funding are an upgrade of 326,000 local authority public lights, which will reduce emissions by 40,000 tonnes per year, and a project to reduce fuel consumption in HGVs which will involve training and monitoring of driving performance in 1,000 vehicles. This is aimed at reducing fuel consumption by 10pc.

Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton said Ireland would miss its 2020 target to reduce emissions, and needed to "step up dramatically".

"We need to see far-reaching change in terms of how we travel, heat our home, manage our waste, our agriculture - all these things have to change very dramatically," he added.

Irish Independent

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