A Climate Change conference will take place in Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday October 6th from 09.30 until 16.00. This event is being organised by The Sisters of Mercy in the Galilee Community (www.galilee.ie). Minister Denis Naughton DCCAE will deliver the opening address.
Speakers include Professor John Fitzgerald, Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Committee; Jim Scheer, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland; Dr Simon O Rafferty, Environmental Protection Agency; Kate Ruddock, Friends of the Earth and SEAI Board member; Dr Lorna Gold, Trócaire; Gary Tyrrell, An Taisce Climate Ambassador Programme; Mel Gavin IT Sligo; and local climate ambassadors Seamus Dunbar from the North Leitrim Sustainable Energy Community, Francesca Franzetti the Leitrim Cool Planet Champion, and Dr Micheal Morkan who will describe his own personal experiences with a low carbon transition.
Topics discussed on the day will include: What is Climate Change? Mitigation and Adaptation Measures in Ireland; Delivering on Ireland’s Low Carbon Transition – Progress and Challenges; Climate Transitions; How a Circular Economy Supports the Low Carbon Transition; and many more.
There will be electric cars available on the day for test driving; grant information from SEAI for homeowners, and other renewable energy companies exhibiting PV and biomass products.
It is FREE to register (Click here) and lunch is kindly sponsored by the Western Development Commission through the LECo (Local Energy Communities) Project.
AA Roadwatch has unveiled plans for a new mobile charging unit for electric vehicles, the first of their kind in Europe. As a result of the growing number of electric cars on Irish roads, the company say the charging units will address the concerns of motorists that drive electric powered vehicles and who worry about potentially running out of power. The breakdown assistance provider has teamed up with Australian company Club Logistics Solutions to develop the charging units, which will be powered directly by the AA rescue van as opposed to a separate generator.
Commenting on the unveiling Conor Faughnan, AA Director of Consumer Affairs stated: “Our AA Rescue team have a long and proud history of going above and beyond to meet the needs of broken down motorists across the country, and the purchase of these mobile charging units is the next step on that journey. In that time electric cars have evolved significantly and along the way we’ve seen a similar evolution in charging and emergency assistance options for EVs. Of all the mobile units we have seen this is by far the most impressive, easily deployed and environmentally friendly options.”
Mr Faughnan added that the launch of the units will address the concern of running out of power. “This is a huge step forward for electric vehicle owners in Ireland and a significant innovation for our AA Rescue team as they continue to meet the demands of our members. We know from research that we’ve undertaken in the past that the fear of running out of power is a major concern of Irish motorists when it comes to going electric and we hope that knowing this solution exists will help some people ditch petrol and diesel powered cars.” According to the AA, it will take 20 minutes for the company to provide 15pc of battery charge using the mobile charging unit.
The Irish Government has pledged to ban the sale of new cars with tailpipes by the year 2030, as part of its commitment to environment issues. Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten said that he told his European counterparts at a European Council meeting this week that Ireland “had set itself an objective” to ban the sale of all new cars with a tailpipe by 2030.
But he said that in order to do that, the European automotive industry needed to ramp up its efforts to reduce emissions and produce zero emissions cars. “They really need to drive ambition in this area so that we can reduce overall carbon emissions within the transport sector that make up one quarter of all carbon emissions within the EU.” There are widespread plans to ensure there are zero-emission vehicles on roads. Alternative fuel options are being looked at to introduce green-energy fleets for Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and school buses. Ireland could be forced to pay up to €75 million each year if it doesn’t meet its EU renewable-energy targets by 2020 – with many experts and politicians saying it won’t meet those targets.
Naughten also discussed how to tackle cigarette butt litter with his European counterparts. Every single cigarette butt has 12,000 micro strands of plastic in it. As a result on a global level, we have 1,900 million strands of plastic going into our water streams every single second. And it’s not just a problem of microplastics getting into our waters, also the cigarette filters themselves are there to block tar and other chemicals going into the smoker’s lungs. “But they end up in our water courses, in our rivers having an impact on aquatic life, and in our fish stocks.” The 2017 National Litter Pollution Report showed that half of all street litter is made up of cigarette butts. It’s understood that on-the-spot litter fines are going to be increased from €150 to €250 in an attempt to tackle the problem.
Renewable energy, including bioenergy, is thriving in the town Akureyri, in northern Iceland, with the community actively moving in the direction of carbon neutrality. The energy transition team at Orkustofnun visited Akureyri in order to look into the current status of renewable energy in transport and in utilization of biomass in the Eyjafjörður Area, northern Iceland. Orkustofnun’s branch in Akureyri was visited, and Guðmundur H. Sigurðarson, Managing Director of Vistorka, presented the company’s activities and the status of these issues including achieving carbon neutral society in Akureyri.
Several charging stations for electric cars are available for use in Akureyri and some of them where visited. The stations are owned and operated by ON, Norðurorka and Rarik. Vistorka received funding from the Energy Fund for development of infrastructure for electric cars which will result in 11 electric charging stations in the North of Iceland. Most of the projects described below have been funded by the Energy Fund as well as supported by Orkusetur.
The compost company Molta was visited, where organic waste is collected from homes and companies in the Eyjafjörður Area and beyond for compost production. Production of biodiesel from animal waste is planned at the facility. The company Orkey was also visited, where biodiesel is produced from waste cooking oil. The biodiesel is used in buses in Akureyri, on fishing vessels and in asphalt production. The aim is to increase production by adding animal waste as mentioned previously. Methane is currently produced from the old landfill in Akureyri and “harnessing” of the manure in the Eyjafjörður area is on the drawing board to further increase methane production to fuel 2-3000 cars per year.
The use of electric bikes by the employees of Norðurorka is also of interest, as electric bikes are relatively inexpensive, convenient in a hilly and windy environment and use a renewable power source. In winter the bikes’ studded tyres are well suited for icy conditions as well as the on-board lighting system is important for safety in the darkness of the Arctic winter. The energy transition team at Orkustofnun has many irons in the fire these days and are gathering ideas that help accomplish Althingi’s action plan regarding energy transition. In order to meet such goals, it is clear that applying well-known and successful methods and technologies are important. Orkustofnun, Orkusjóður and Orkusetur will continue to support projects in the field of energy transition throughout the country.
Taxi drivers and operators of other public service vehicles are set to benefit from a new €7,000 grant scheme aimed at encouraging them to opt for electric vehicles. Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, has announced a new incentive scheme offering a €7,000 grant towards the purchase of an electric vehicle for those with a small public service vehicle (SPSV) licence. That grant is on top of the existing electric car incentives – the €5,000 rebate on vehicle registration tax, a €3,800 grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), and the upcoming new grant from the SEAI for installing a home-charging point.
The Department of Transport grant applies to any fully electric vehicle up to six years old, although the amount reduces according to the age of the car. A smaller €3,500 grant applies if you want to buy a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) for taxi use, but only those with Co2 emissions lower than 65g/km. Conventional hybrids are excluded.
The move is the latest in a series of measures being introduced by the Government to promote electric car ownership. Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe introduced a one-year exemption on benefit in kind for electric vehicles in the budget, and it is expected that the exemption will be rolled out for at least three years, including a suspension of any benefit in kind levied on charging your electric car at work.
Meanwhile, Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten has stated that he is looking at other ways to encourage an increase in the move to electric vehicles, including making motorways tolls free for electric cars and banning sales of any non-hybrid or electric car from 2030 onwards. However, the current financial incentives are still not having much effect. Electric cars accounted for a paltry 0.25 per cent of the market last year, with just 622 sold in total in a total new car market of 131,335.
Irelands Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe announced that a total budget of €17 million will go towards the RHI scheme and the encouragement of greater uptake of electric vehicles as part of Ireland’s commitment to its climate change obligations.
€7 million will be allocated for the government’s long-anticipated Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme in 2018. The allocation is lower than predicted by industry representatives, but with applications only expected to open in the second half of 2018, next year will not be a full operational year for the scheme. The scheme is aimed at encouraging industrial and commercial heat users, in the Republic of Ireland, to switch to greener technologies. An RHI scheme was first considered as part of the Bioenergy strategy consultation in 2013, and included in the Draft Bioenergy Plan in 2014.
The RHI will support the replacement of fossil fuel heating systems with renewable energy systems – such as biomass boilers. The scheme will present a significant opportunity for the domestic bioenergy sector benefiting farmers, foresters and rural communities.
“It is without a doubt reasonable to convert the vehicle fleet in Iceland” is the opening sentence in Visir news media from Bjarni Már Júlíusson CEO of ON Power.
The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Björt Ólafsdóttir recently reported that they expect to see the entire vehicle fleet converted to renewable energy by the year 2030. To be able to achieve those goals the government would have to encourage further construction of electrical power stations.
Bjarni also stated an important issue in this debate is that nearly 100% energy is derived from domestically produced renewable energy and 70-80% of the population live in specific areas.
Bjarni talks about the “devils circle”. Individuals who do not change to electrical cars because there are too few power stations in the countryside and the power stations are not in the countryside because of lack of demand. Bjarni stated that this situation needs to change.
He stated that the government needs to walk the talk when it comes to this and reassure increased capital to the energy fund. The governments needs to balance the ratio between tax collections from gas and diesel against construction of power stations. In 2016 they collected around 1,9 billion ISK meanwhile energy fund spent around 200 million ISK in constructions of powerstations. “They should spent a ceartain percentage of these tax collections on the conversion process” reports Bjarni.
Özur Lárusson, CEO of the automotive trade association has another view on the time of the full conversion. Too many cars have too much lifespan left and individuals not ready to throw their fossil fuel cars for an electrical one if the former still is running. He reports that too many challenges are to be solved until we are fully ready for the conversion.
The Visir Daily News article concludes on the matters that both Özur and Bjarni agree upon. They see the development towards electrical cars is fast and see great possibilities in starting conversion of the public bus and coach transport. Stræto Ltd. for example has already ordered five buses and even though they do not have as good a range on the power supply as fossil fuel equivalents, this is a certain development in the right direction. “We just need to put more power into the process” says Bjarni.