The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) sustainable energy community network now has 55 member organisations from across the country, committed to working together as a national movement towards a low carbon future. The sustainable energy communities (SECs) aim to influence a collective energy spend of approximately €500 million within their communities, making them more sustainable through energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD spoke at the first national meeting of the network in Longford on Saturday and heard first hand of the work of network members to date. Many of the communities have already completed energy upgrades to homes, schools, sports and parish facilities and business premises. The more advanced members are investigating options for community led renewable energy projects at small and larger scales.
Speaking at the event Minister Naughten said: “The Energy White paper firmly positioned the citizens and communities at the heart of Ireland’s transition to a low carbon economy. With Ireland currently spending €4.6 billion a year on fossil fuel imports, SEAI’s sustainable energy community network is an opportunity for those communities willing to take early action and lead on the climate and energy agenda. It puts the power firmly in the hands of communities by providing them with the support to take control of lowering their energy use and availing of local renewable energy sources.”
Commenting on the benefits, Jim Gannon, CEO of SEAI said: “It’s great to see more and more communities join what is now truly a national movement. Individual groups are benefitting from more efficient, warmer homes and businesses and cleaner energy sources. The real power of this network comes from within. The shared experiences of the members are invaluable, given that opportunities and challenges are often very similar across the communities. We want to build knowledge and confidence in citizens and communities across the country so that they can have a more determining control of their sustainable energy transition. The SEAI sustainable energy communities network provides a platform where people can learn from one another, and have open and rational discussion around both energy efficiency and renewable energy as it applies to their own community.