Introduction to Ireland
Sustainable energy improves people’s lives, brings comfort and convenience, and addresses environmental challenges. It is also beneficial to our economy, creating and protecting jobs.The funding landscape in Ireland is challenging at present for community groups looking to develop community renewable energy products. However, this being said, there are still a range of different funding options which may be worth considering. Through the RECENT project, we work with all kinds of community groups and we would be delighted to assist you with your applications.
In Ireland there are various opportunities available for communities to be more self sufficient, in terms of their energy and water use. For a low carbon future, renewable energy is vital. Unlike traditional energy, renewable energy generation gets a wide range of people involved – for the benefit of themselves and their communities.
Environmentally friendly methods of energy are becoming more important and more desirable in recent years, due to already damaging effects of climate change on the environment. Sustainable methods of energy are high in demand. In challenging times it is important to explore opportunities for job creation and fuel cost savings while reducing significant levels of GHG emissions.
Ireland imports all of its oil and coal and 90% of its gas. This is increasing the vulnerability of energy security in the country. Currently Ireland is spending €6 billion per annum to pay for fossil fuel imports (2015). Achieving a low carbon economy requires developing renewable energy sources. The west of Ireland has large renewable energy potential in terms of developing wind farms, ocean energy and biomass energy.
Since 1 January 2014, responsibility for the efficient supply of water to homes and businesses has transferred from local authorities to Irish Water, the new national water services authority. Funding for maintaining and improving the water supply infrastructure (pipes, filtration and disinfection systems) comes from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.Irish Water is responsible for the operation of public water services including management of national water assets, maintenance of the water system, investment and planning, managing capital projects and customer care and billing.
Irish Water is responsible for:
• Delivering water and wastewater services to homes and businesses
• Maintaining the current water infrastructure
• Investing in Ireland's future water infrastructure Irish Water is a subsidiary of Ervia, Ireland’s first multi-utility company responsible for strategic national water and gas infrastructure and services.
Public water schemes
Public water mains are administered and maintained by local authorities. This water is supplied to homes and businesses in urban areas. At present, charges are only levied on water supplied to commercial premises. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government funds the provision and upgrading of capital projects in water and wastewater services. Local authorities administer the actual building of public water supply projects. Stringent water testing is carried out on all public waters by local authorities and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Group water schemes
Many households that are not connected to a public water supply are served by group water schemes. These schemes are formed by two or more households coming together to provide their own common water supply. The group elects trustees to act on behalf of its members in all dealings with the local authority. Usually, group schemes are established in areas where the local authority does not intend to install a water supply system in the near future, or at all. Group water schemes can get water supplies from the public mains, if possible, or a private source like wells or lakes. You have to pay for your water if you belong to a private group water scheme. However, local authorities do provide subsidies for each house in a group scheme.Local authorities have the remit to test the water supply and ensure it is safe to drink but they are not responsible for maintaining group scheme pipes and filtration systems. If the members of a group water scheme want the local authority to take over the running of the scheme, they must sign a waiver to allow local authority personnel on their land to maintain pipes, etc. The group must give the local authority a map of the pipe system and give it access to test pipes for leakage. If the local authority takes over the scheme, it is then responsible for maintaining the water system. However, if a group water scheme remains fully private, it may get technical and grant assistance from the local authority for any necessary upgrading works. The National Federation of Group Water Schemes is a co-operative society, established to represent the interests of members of group water schemes. It also provides advisory, training, developmental and other services to scheme members.
The funding landscape in Ireland is challenging at present for community groups looking to develop community renewable energy products. However, this being said, there are still a range of different funding options which may be worth considering. Below are examples of funding sources for community groups such as the Better Energy Communities programme (which is administered by the SEAI), the LEADER programme and various social finance providers (Clann Credo and Western Development Commission). Clár ICH have created a toolkit (please see below) to assist community groups in applying for funding. Through the RECENT project, we work with all kinds of community groups and we would be delighted to assist you with your funding applications. Below are examples of funding sources for community groups such as the Better Energy Communities programme (which is administered by the SEAI), the LEADER programme and various social finance providers (Clann Credo and Western Development Commission). Clár ICH have created a toolkit (please see below) to assist community groups in applying for funding. Through the RECENT project, we work with all kinds of community groups and we would be delighted to assist you with your funding applications.
Clár ICH is leading Work Package 3 of RECENT, ‘Capacity Building’. The Capacity Building Work Package is the central work package of RECENT. It involves identifying pilot communities to work with, defining the development stage the pilot communities are located in, engaging and equipping them with the necessary tools to participate in RECENT by developing a social and economic baseline from which to work from. RECENT will adopt a range of motivation tools to encourage communities and stakeholders to participate. It will use aspects of the social assessment to examine the cultural and social aspect of how the planned resource efficiency activities help communities.
Identification of possible stakeholders within RECENT
Stakeholder identification is required in the RECENT project as it assists in securing community buy-in, in terms of a return to the community in social benefits, as well as the return in renewable energy and energy costs. In order to identify the influence a stakeholder holds on a project, a stakeholder map is available below.
This stakeholder map visualizes power versus interest of a stakeholder. According to Eden and Ackerman (2011) using this grid helps determine which players’ interest and power bases must be considered in order to address the problem/issue at hand. It highlights coalitions that can be encouraged or discouraged, whose buy in should be sought or co-opted. Further it provides some information on how to convince stakeholders to change their views.
Policy - Influencers
Within Ireland there has been a range of policies designed over the years that impact on the need for, or use of renewable energy technologies. The RECENT project has analysed the current status for policy and this is contained in the below document.
Attached is a policy brief for Ireland.Policy Brief Ireland
One of the benefits of a transnational project such as RECENT, is that is brings together case studies from a wide range of communities. These communities have many differences, however are brought together by the remote, rural nature of their locations, and as such have many more similarities than differences. The learning platform will showcase a number of case studies from across each of the five regions’, giving an insight into areas of best practice, new technologies and challenges which community groups and other stakeholders have overcome in their pursuit of self sustainability
The first study is a community energy day RECENT organised in Mulranny, Co.Mayo. Please see the attached document which explains and highlights the day.Ireland Case Studies