Community Power – Success for Community Owned Renewable Energy

The results of the first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme Auction (RESS 1) were announced today.  The scheme has granted support for over one hundred solar and wind developments across Ireland, and is the first time that community led renewable generation projects have been eligible to take part in projects have been recognised and supported in Ireland.

 

Speaking from the launch JP Prendergast from the Claremorris and Western District Energy Co-operative said:

 

“Our co-operative will be building a solar park here in Claremorris, which will generate enough power for our town. We’ve already helped to get solar panels for our local school, and retrofitted a number of buildings, but the solar farm is going to be a game changer for generating income and supporting local jobs here in Claremorris. From this one project we will have the opportunity to seed many many more.”  

 

Templederry Wind Farm in Tipperary was Ireland’s first community owned wind farm, and until now has held the title of the only one.

 

John Fogarty founding member of Templederry Wind Farm,  said:

 

We never wanted to hold the title of Ireland’s only community owned energy project for so long, and through Community Power we have been working for the last 5 years to support other community energy groups around Ireland to get to a point where they could lead their own community projects. To see eight community projects awarded today shows there is real potential in our communities to come together and do this.  I am confident for the next auction there will be many more.”  

 

It is our vision that every citizen and every community in Ireland can have the opportunity to really be active participants in this energy transition, for us that means people owning  solar or a wind farm, or any renewable technology, and to really actively take part in this energy transition.”

 

Kate Ruddock, deputy director at Friends of the Earth commented:

 

When a community or a group of citizens come together to build a renewable energy project through a co-operative structure it is powerful.  Of course renewable energy displaces fossil fuels from the energy system so that is a huge benefit, but more than that, when citizens and communities are active participants there are so many other benefits too.  There are lots of owners so the economic benefits are shared widely, local jobs are created and tend to stay local, and communities can start to count on an alternative income stream.”

 

Kate Ruddock continued,

 

“Policy is evolving in the right direction here, but there are still many more significant challenges for community energy projects to connect to the grid, and for small scale generators to sell any of their power, however, this is a very positive step in the right direction for energy democracy.”

 

Friends of the Earth are working with Community Power to support and enable communities to participate in building their own renewable energy solutions by building a community based virtual power plant.

 

A virtual power plant is a network of generators of electricity that join together to operate like a single power plant. The community-based version offers a community the opportunity to provide its energy needs with small-scale, distributed low-carbon technologies with participation from individual consumers, local energy co-operatives or companies, or SMEs. There are no new wires, or cables required. Communities and citizens can generate renewable power, the virtual power plant aggregates the power, and then distributes it back to its customers.

 

Significant economic benefits will also be available for communities in the proximity of new large wind energy developments in RESS 1 through a mandatory Community Benefit Fund which will be set at €2 per MWhr.

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