• Gillian Gannon
  • 3 min read

Sometimes parents never understand what it is that we do. Programme Executive for Sustainable Energy Communities, Gillian Gannon gives us an extract of a conversation she had with her Dad about working with SEAI

After getting my qualification in environmental science, my dad could not get the image of a tree-hugger out of his head


When I told my Dad I got a job in SEAI, he was happy for me. "Glad you got into something you're interested in. Is that the place that does trees?"

"No Dad, that's Coillte"

"Ah right, what's the difference?"

"SEAI deal with sustainable energy, you know like energy efficiency and renewables"

"Like those big wind turbines?"

"Well kinda, but all types of renewables - bioenergy, solar, heatpumps, wind energy – all of it. But energy efficiency is as important”

“What do you mean by that now?”

“Like conserving energy, trying to use less energy in the first place. Insulating the walls and attic, making sure the boiler is working properly and not wasting fuel, that sort of stuff”

“And how do the SEAI do that? Are they the crowd with the grants for pumping the walls like what the Murphy’s got done down the road.”

“Yeah, but they have loads of grants. Grants for homes, businesses, communities – all different types of energy users. But they do more than grants too. They work with researchers, advise on policy, try to help develop new technologies, promote energy awareness – there’s a lot of work needed to make Ireland’s energy more sustainable.”

“Sure what’s wrong with how we’re doing it now?”

“We’re importing 80% of our energy from other countries. That’s a lot of money leaving the economy when it could be spent here – like billions of euro.”

“Billions of euro? I wouldn’t mind some of that being spent in the shop”. (My Dad owns an autoparts shop)

“Exactly, and the energy we do use is mostly from fossil fuels which is contributing to climate change really quickly, so we need to move towards using less energy in the first place, and using renewable energy as much as possible.”

“I used to not really think about climate change until I had to shut the shop when 'Ophelia' and 'Emma' weather storms were here. Then we spent days clearing the branches off the road so we could drive safely again. John Walsh lost a few sheep when the shed blew in – and we got off lightly compared to some people. How do we stop it though, it’s too late now isn’t it?”

“No, everyone can start somewhere. You can start by insulating the house – it’s always freezing here in the winter! You can also make sure you use as little energy as you can in the shop, maybe even switching to an electric delivery van.”

“Hmm, I don’t know about that – although I’m due an upgrade…..”

“We can also come together as a community and learn how we can save and use cleaner energy. If we get more informed, we can let local politicians know we want to have a say in how we become more sustainable. Bigger organisations also need to get involved. Anyone who uses energy – which is everyone – has a responsibility to act now. SEAI can also provide information, advice, grant funding and other supports to help them.”

“Right so. You’re not hugging trees then?”

“Only in my spare time Dad.”

Follow Gillian on Twitter @GillianGannon or SEAI @SEAI_ie