Aran Islands Take Action to Eliminate Fossil Fuel Dependence
Energy efficiency and renewable energy provide key to sustainable self-reliant islands. Almost two thirds of Islanders already upgraded their homes to reduce energy needs.
The Aran Islands are taking significant action to become energy independent with 63% of the Islands' buildings already upgraded and today Alex White T.D., Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources visited Inis Mór to see progress to date on several energy projects. The island community has partnered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to deliver a range of community-led action and supporting analysis by SEAI has verified that the goal of carbon neutrality by 2022 is entirely achievable.
Three hundred and fifty three homes and community buildings, representing two-thirds of buildings on the Islands, have completed energy upgrades with support from SEAI, improving insulation levels and installing efficient heating systems. This is resulting in more comfortable homes and lower energy bills with annual energy savings of €250,000 accruing to the Islanders. A trial of Electric Vehicles in partnership between the community and SEAI also demonstrated how transport fuel needs can be dramatically reduced. Analysis shows that energy imports could be reduced even further by replacing heating systems with heat pumps powered by wind or wave energy in the future.
Commenting during his visit, Minister White said: "The Aran Islanders' ambition to become carbon neutral has already delivered many benefits to the islands. Energy efficiency and renewables will be at the core of the energy White Paper, which I will publish in the autumn. I think the vision set out for the Aran Islands could be replicated to maximise energy efficiency and the use of renewables in communities across the country. This would help us to secure an affordable, low-carbon energy future with minimal reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels."
Brian Motherway, CEO of SEAI, who also visited the islands said: "Communities working together is the most effective way to bring about meaningful and lasting change. The Aran Islands are leading the way to show how communities can stop wasting money on imported fossil fuel and become truly sustainable and self-reliant. This also brings immediate benefits in terms of quality of life and lower energy bills."
Dara Ó Maoildhia, Chairman of Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáín Árann Teoranta (Aran Islands Renewable Energy Ltd) , in welcoming Minister Alex White, said that the vision of the Aran Islands becoming carbon neutral could not be achieved without the full support of the Government and of SEAI. "The Aran Islands community needs a strong partnership with government, the SEAI, and other agencies to realise its ambition. There are many challenges to achieving what is an ambitious vision, but I'm confident that this offshore community working closely with Government and key partners will achieve its goals."
The tour of the Island was coordinated by Energy Co-operatives Ireland (ECI). Mr Cormac Walsh, CEO, said: "ECI have now established five energy co-ops throughout Ireland. Each one of these is creating jobs and enabling communities to take control of their own energy use. Every community in Ireland can achieve the same goals as the Aran Islands. Together with RESCOOP, our European partners, and ICOS, we are rolling out a national network of community -owned energy co-ops that can transform the Irish energy sector to the benefit of all."
The identified actions of energy upgrades and greater use of renewable energy will reduce fossil fuel imports to the Islands by 84%. In addition exports of locally produced electricity will complete the journey to total energy independence.
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Drury Porter Novelli
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a mission to play a leading role in the transformation of Ireland to a society based on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices. SEAI is partly financed by Ireland's EU Structural Funds Programme co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union.
- 353 building energy upgrades carried out with support from SEAI in the last number of years
- A three year long trial of eight EVs was conducted on the islands with 30 participants
- SEAI analysis shows the Islands are on a pathway to success
RESCOPO is a federation of 350 Renewable Energy Co-operatives in Europe (website www.rescoop.eu)
ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society website: www.icos.ie) is a representative umbrella organisation for the co-operative movement in Ireland. Its co-operatives comprise 150,000 members and currently employ more than 12,000 people.
Energy Co-ops Ireland (website: energyco-ops.ie) is the Renewable Energy Co-op partner of ICOS and the Federative Representative Body for RESCOOPS in Ireland.