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SEAI Update December 2021 – Energy

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December 2021
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Hello SEC network members,

We hope you are keeping safe and well as we look forward to Christmas and the New Year. This Newsletter is #3 of 2021 and we have a lot to share with you.

Best Wishes,
The Sustainable Energy Communities Team

SEC Network and Energy Master Plan

Updates for 2021

We have now surpassed 600 SECs in the network and we are delighted to see the continued growth and interest in the programme. This year alone we have seen over 100 new groups join the network and we would like to extend a warm welcome to all these new SECs.

Energy Master Plan (EMP) progress

  • 19 SECs completed theirEMPs this year

  • 65 EMPs in progress across Ireland

  • 44 EMP grants given in 2021, with 12 of the 44 funded through the MOU with the Local Authorities

New EMP funding options

  • A year ago, SEAI and the CARO North Atlantic piloted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to allow the Local Authorities to provide bridge funding to their communities when undertaking their EMP. This partnership allows the SEC to still have ownership over the EMP without having to worry about any of the financial aspects.

  • So far, the MOU has been working really well and we now have 9 Local Authorities providing bridge funding for communities:

  1. Border/West region: Galway County, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo
  2. Dublin/Mid East: Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Meath
  3. Midlands/South East region:Laois, Westmeath, Wexford

Revised application process & guidelines

This year we made some big changes to the EMP process based on your feedback. We have streamlined the grant application to one document and halved the number of documents required to make a claim and made new EMP reports publicly available.

We are continuing to make improvements and the following changes will come into effect for SEC applying for EMP funding from January 2022.

  1. Update guidelines to give clearer advice on scope of work that can be included in the EMP and clearer guidance on EMP eligibility

  1. With the success of the MOU, we have decided to formally adapt this into the application form to make it easier

  1. We have removed the need for SECs to provide a Declaration of De Minimus

  1. Developed a templated EMP report to provide the SEC and the consultant with better structure on developing the EMP report

Grants and Supports

Community Climate Action Programme

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has announced €60 million in funding from the Climate Action Fund for community climate action projects, and a new long-term structure to support public engagement on climate action.

  • €60m from CAF for community climate action

  • To support and empower communities to shape and build low carbon communities

  • Support available from 2022-2025 in 2 phases (each 18 months)

These grants are expected to be administered via local authorities and other government agencies such as Pobal.

For more detailed information please see herehttps://www.gov.ie/en/publication/de5d3-climate-action-fund/

Climate Action Plan 2021

Community Climate Action Programme

Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2021 was launched on 4th November. The revised plan outlines a pathway to reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050. You can find the new Climate Action Plan and supporting documents, as well as read more about Ireland’s progress so far on the Climate Action Plan 2019here.

SEAI Energy Awards 2021

Congratulations to Inishowen SEC

Inspirational Energy Community Award Winner 2021 – Inishowen SEC

Congratulations to Inishowen SEC whowon the Inspirational Energy Community Award at the SEAI Energy Awards 2021 in October. Inishowen SEC was established in January 2019 as a result of a collaboration between Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP), Inishowen Co-Op, Donegal County Council, and a diverse range of stakeholders across the Inishowen community. Their vision is that the Inishowen Peninsula will be carbon neutral by the year 2050 and the SEC has ambitions of becoming a renewable energy centre of excellence. Well done and congratulations to Inishowen SEC!

If you missed the awards ceremony not to worry, you can watch it backhere.

Guzzler’s Party Book

Download your copy now

SEAI have launched a new children’s book to help children learn to save energy and take climate action. To celebrate the launch, SEAI hosted a virtual reading and illustration workshop which are available to watch back hereLaunch of Guzzler’s Party (seai.ie)You can download a copy of the new bookhere.

Case studies/Regional updates

Dublin & Mid East Region

In spite of the many Covid interruptions, Dalkey Tidy Towns work over the past year was fully rewarded at this year’s National Tidy Towns Awards Ceremony. The overall winner for 2021 was Ennis and congratulations are due to them on their great success. Dalkey’s volunteers are celebrating their own four great successes:

  • Gold Medal – National Awards (Population 5,001-10,000)
  • Dublin Winner – County Awards
  • Special Award – Climate Action & Air Quality, Large Town National Winner
  • Special Award – RIAI Good Windows, National Winner

A huge well done to the entire Dalkey Sustainable Energy Team (made up of Dalkey SEC and Tidy Towns group), who were only 6 marks behind national winners, Ennis. Dalkey SEC joined the network in 2019, completing their EMP this year.

Border & West Region

Community Education Scheme 2022

Applications are invited from Community and Voluntary Groups based in Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim who wish to avail of grants under the above scheme. Community Education refers to adult education and learning, generally outside the formal education sector. It aims to empower and support communities. It is firmly community-based, with local groups taking responsibility for, and playing a key role in organising courses and deciding on programme content. More information can be found at:https://msletb.ie/news/community-education-scheme-2022/

Midlands & South East Region

Green Offaly Lunch & Learn with Dingle Peninsula 2030 Team
On 1st November 2021 representatives of the Dingle Peninsula 2030 team departed Dingle for Glasgow to participate in COP-26, the UN Climate Change Conference. Travelling by electric vehicle they visited communities in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland who are working on similar sustainability and transition initiatives, to share learnings. The first stop on the journey was to the historic Charleville Castle located in Tullamore, Co Offaly for a lunch and learn session hosted by Green Offaly, a not-for-profit countywide Green Regeneration enterprise with several other local transition initiatives being showcased also.A huge well done to Offaly County Council, Offaly Public Participation Network and Green Offaly, with a special mention to Rebekah Keaveny and Bridie Costello Hynes for all their hard work in promoting energy sustainability throughout all of Offaly.

Midlands and South-East

South East updates

2021 was a busy year in the South East with 12 communities joining the 52 existing SECs to work towards reducing their community’s carbon footprint. Despite the challenges of Covid, four Energy Master Plans (EMP) were completed this year in Tullow, Old Leighlin, Myshall, and among the Ecomerit group in Wexford. Those communities are now looking at their project options when it comes to putting in place the recommendations of the plan and they will be joined in 2022 by 3 more communities who will have completed their EMPs, Callan, Blackwater Valley and Bagnelstown.

As well as the EMPs many one-off projects have been completed in the region, such as the Kells SEC (KK) installed EV chargers, Clashmore-Kinsalebeg (WD) ran an awareness raising day on energy efficiency, Callan SEC (KK) were involved in installing a solar project on their local Supervalu and are partners in one of the country’s first community owned solar farms and Cappoquin Community Development Company (WD) have installed 40 Solar PV panels on the roof of their community centre. Lots done and we can’t wait to see what will be completed in 2022.

Mid West & South West Region

Caherconlish SEC goes solar

A major energy upgrade was completed in May 2021 at the Millennium Centre in Caherconlish, Co Limerick, which is testament to the hard work and dedication of the SEC since 2017 when the project was conceived, and showcases what can be achieved when a community works together.

A new 100kW Solar PV generator has been installed on the roof of the centre, covering over 80% of the electricity consumption at the centre during summer. It is a relatively large system and will provide at least 60% of the consumption over the full year. A new 500L special solar powered hot water tank has also been installed, which will be primarily heated using a smart power diverter of the solar generated electricity.

Heat loss measures, including the addition of cavity wall insulation, and an air curtain driven by a heat pump, were installed at the main entrance to the Centre, facilitating a huge reduction in heat loss.

Energy efficiency measures included the upgrade of all lighting in the building to more energy efficient LEDs. Previous lighting energy and maintenance costs were ~ €7,000 pa, but by installing all LED lighting, energy maintenance and replacement parts are predicted to reduce the costs by around 30%.

Thanks to Eddie O’Gorman of Caherconlish Caherline SEC who provided the detail in this article.

RESS update

RESS 2

The RESS-2 final terms and conditions and associated auction timetable were published by DECC and EirGrid in October 2021. You can access these documents from the links provided below. 100% community-owned projects can bid for RESS support through the community category in the next RESS auction. The Qualification Application process opened on 7th December 2021 and closes on the 13th January 2022, with the auction itself due to take place in May 2022. For any communities seeking support with an eligible community RESS project, please contactCommunityRESS@seai.ie

RESS-2 Terms and Conditions:https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/7f0bb-renewable-electricity-support-scheme-2-ress-2/

RESS-2 Auction Timetable:https://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/RESS-2-Auction-Timetable-(R2AT)-v.2.pdf

Community Energy Resource Toolkit

Launch of first 4 guidance modules for communities

SEAI, as the Implementation Body for the RESS Community Enabling Framework have developed and launched the first 4 guidance modules which form part of the Community Energy Resource Toolkit. This Toolkit will, over time, provide a full suite of guidance documents for communities interested in generating their own renewable electricity generation projects as part of RESS, covering a range of topics relating to technology and project development. These first 4 modules cover the topics of Onshore Wind, Solar PV, Grid Connection and the Planning Process and can be found here:https://www.seai.ie/community-energy/ress/enabling-framework/.

We very much hope communities find these useful and we would be delighted to receive your thoughts and feedback on the first 4 modules so as to help inform the future development of the second phase of the Toolkit. If you would like to provide feedback, you can do so direct by emailingCommunityRESS@seai.ieor by contacting your SEC mentor.

Other news

Community Engagement in Wind Energy

Achieving a social licence to operate in the community

The Co-Wind research project is examining aspects of public participation in onshore windfarm developments in Ireland to see if greater public participation effects the social acceptance of these developments by local communities who may be asked to host these infrastructure projects. The research is funded by the SEAI and the researchers on the project are based inUniversity College Cork.

Specifically, the Co-Wind research project is interested in exploring how (1) community engagement; (2) community ownership or co-ownership; and (3) the distribution of community benefit funds may impact the social acceptance of existing, planned or future onshore windfarm developments in your community. We are seeking to discover ways in which community benefit funds can be distributed fairly among local residents and the wider community. We are seeking to see how a realistic opportunity to invest in onshore wind energy developments could be offered to local residents and the wider community. We expect the results of this research to influence guidelines and policies on community engagement practices, citizen investment in wind farms and on benefit sharing within communities.

Early next year, we will be looking for people who live close to wind farms, who live in an area where a wind farm is planned or community groups that are planning to develop a wind farm to speak with us and participate in our survey. We hope to engage with the members of SEC to assist in disseminating the community survey through your local networks where possible. If your SEC would be willing to assist us in disseminating the survey, please contact Dr. Bernadette Power atb.power@ucc.ie.

Read more here.

Farewell to Julie

Julie is leaving the SEC team for greener pastures! Julie joined the team back in March 2020 and has done a fantastic job during that time, especially to streamline the energy master plan process for SECs.She will be missed but she won’t be gone far, as she takes on her new role in the SEAI Business & Public Sector department. We would like to thank Julie and wish her all the best.

Some parting words from Julie: “I’ve had a fantastic time working in the SEC team. I’ve learnt so much from the SEC’s and I continue to be encouraged and impressed by the work the communities and mentors are doing across Ireland in leading the way towards a sustainable future.”

Any feedback for the team?

Finally, we appreciate the feedback we receive from our SEC members. If you have any particular feedback for us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and let us know your thoughts and ideas and if there is anything we can do to better support you and your community at this time. Whether it be access to more online webinars and training sessions, more frequent communications from SEAI in relation to programme updates or supports available, let us know by dropping us an email atSEC@seai.ie
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