Local Committee Striving For Energy Efficiency and Savings
Writes Leo McMahon
Everyone, it seems, is talking about the high cost of energy. Well, a group in Carrigaline is doing something about it and wants everyone in the community to have an input into its upcoming Energy Master Plan for the locality and help make important savings in their household budgets.
Carrigaline Tidy Towns Sustainable Energy Committee (SEC), was established by in 2021 by Tidy Towns which is a sub-committee of the local community association. Its 11 members come from all backgrounds and represent all stakeholders in the community including industry, businesses, agriculture, schools, sports clubs, Tidy Towns and environmental groups.
The members are: Liam Doyle, chairperson; Sean Hogan, secretary; Willy Walsh, treasurer; Barry Cogan, PRO; Maura Allen, liaison officer with Tidy Towns; Diarmuid Cogan, Kevin O’Driscoll, Ann Bogan, Anne Guerin, Brid Ryder and Sinead Weldon.
As pointed out by chairperson Liam Doyle, a retired Naval Service officer who assisted in surveys in 2018 and 2019 about uses of energy as part of Tidy Towns projects, the aim of the SEC is to create a vibrant energy efficient community in Carrigaline by using renewable energy where feasible, reducing the carbon footprint and to develop smart energy solutions. It’s one of a network of SECs set up by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
Last January, the committee obtained a grant from the SEAI to appoint consultants to draft an Energy Master Plan for Carrigaline. Due to the fact energy consumption in the locality has been calculated at around €35 million per annum, the SEC was eligible for a grant of €20,000 and its approval was the result of a lot of hard work by the volunteers with community support.
The grant enabled the committee to go out to tender and in May, it appointed PlanEnergy to draft its Energy Master Plan.
‘And that’s where the people of Carrigaline and its agricultural hinterland come in,’ said Barry Cogan, ‘because what we want and need right now is full community involvement, so that every resident can have his or her say’.
The plan will have three outputs: 1) to provide a breakdown of energy use in the different sectors, current energy sources and energy related CO2 emissions in Carrigaline; 2) A Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Carrigaline going forward and 3) Establish a register of opportunities for reducing energy demand and transiting to renewable energy supplies. It’s planned to have the draft Energy Master Plan ready by November.
During a recent photo-call, some members of the SEC outlined to The Carrigdhoun Newspaper why they are on the committee and what they want to see happening. ‘The future is the children’, said Diarmuid Cogan, chairperson of Holy Well National School Board of Management. ‘If they can put pressure on parents, we might get some action. After all, the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use’.
Sean Hogan, who doesn’t represent any particular group but has practical experience in sustainable design solutions for the built environment, said: ‘We need to really start thinking about the transformation away from fossil fuels to and reduce carbon emissions. We also need to reduce car journeys through sustainable transport and look at retro-fit programmes for older buildings to not only modernise but reduce energy demand.’
Ann Bogan, a member of Carrigaline Tennis Club and a town planner by profession, said sustainable energy was something she was always very interested in. Indeed her household is doing its bit as it has roof solar panels that generate electricity it can sell to the ESB in the summer months, geo-thermal heating and the family has an electric car.
She hopes the SEC and its upcoming Energy Master Plan will have actions that will encourage more people in Carrigaline to become greener and enjoy the benefits of cleaner, cheaper and environmentally friendly energy.
Sinead Weldon is a representative of industry on the SEC. Environmental health and safety manager at PepsiCo, she said that as a resident of Carrigaline, she was really interested in what comes from the master plan including, she hopes, more safe cycling and walking routes and sustainable transport.
Carrigaline has around 6,300 residential, 824 commercial and 81 residential/commercial units. Ahead of the plan’s launch later this year, said Maura Allen, the SEC is very keen to engage with and hear from as many people as possible in the community right now. This will enable the SEC to firstly identify current energy usage in every building and mode of transport and commit to ensuring that by 2024, everybody will have the opportunity to improve and reduce their own energy usage and to continue to monitor this and adjust as required.
The plan is timely given that significant changes that will impact on every citizen of the South Cork capital are on the way most notably through the Carrigaline Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan (TPREP).
The SEC believes that with the spirit and commitment of all residents, businesses, schools, churches, sports facilities, agri-sector and other residents, the Energy Master Plan will create an environment of care for what already exists and a secured, improved future for the community of Carrigaline.
* PlanEnergy is a leading independent energy consultancy in Ireland specialising in advising commercial, farming, community and public clients on energy efficiency and renewable energy. It has delivered hundreds of successful projects in wind, solar, biomethane, lighting and thermal efficiency under a wide range of funding structures. PlanEnergy describes itself as a leader in community led energy projects and energy stakeholder management.
* Further information about the work of the SEC, including an information leaflet and digital link will be forthcoming but in the meantime, anyone with queries, ideas or suggestions can phone 086 8670222.