Interest grows in large-scale solar in Ireland

AR solar 03-08-2017

Irish power utility EBS and wind specialist Bord na Móna are planning a giant solar project across three counties in the middle of Ireland. Meanwhile, large-scale PV projects with a combined capacity of 1.47 GW were submitted to the local grid operator for approval.

Ireland’s state-owned power utility Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and local wind power specialist Bord na Móna announced a plan to develop a giant PV project across four locations in Roscommon, Offaly and Kildare, in the middle of the country.

In their press release, the two companies said the plant will be able to power 150,000 homes and businesses in the area, without releasing additional information. Local media, however, reported that the installation will have a capacity of 570 MW, and that it will require a global investment of around €500 million ($545.9 million).

The Irish Minister for Communications, Climate Action, & Environment Denis Naughten welcomed the co-development agreement between ESB and Bord na Móna claiming that it will place solar technology “at the heart of the solutions needed by the Irish economy and society.”

“Wind will continue to have a major role to play in supporting the decarbonisation of our energy system, but I am acutely conscious of the need to diversify our renewable generation portfolio in order to meet our ambitious climate and energy objectives. I therefore expect other technologies, including solar, to have a growing role,” Naughten said.

This is not the first investment that ESB has made in the Irish solar sector. In October 2016, the company invested €2.5 million to acquire a majority stake in Irish company Terra Solar. “This strategic investment will see the development of multiple solar PV farms within Ireland in the future, which will result in a lower carbon footprint and contribute to increased energy production from renewable sources,” the company said at the time.

That interest in large-scale solar project is increasing in Ireland was confirmed to pv magazine by the local grid operator EirGrid, which revealed that, as of the end of February 2017, it had received approximately 1,474 megawatts of solar applications from approximately 20 developers. All of these applications were for PV projects exceeding 40 MW. “It is worth noting,” said EirGrid, “that this represents a minority of solar generation applications, the majority of which are seeking connection to the distribution system operated by ESB Networks.”

Despite this growing interest for MW-sized PV projects, Ireland has currently an installed PV capacity of around 6 MW (which is almost entirely on rooftops), according to the report Ireland’s Solar Value Chain Opportunity recently published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

SEAI said that the main driver for this 6 MW was Part L of the domestic building regulations, which requires a proportion of the energy consumption of a dwelling to be provided by renewable energy sources. According to the report, almost 4,000 new dwellings recorded in the country’s Building Energy Rating (BER) database have included some solar PV generation capacity.

The Irish government has certainly shown a clear commitment to renewable energy sources within the country, but has yet to finalize its renewable energy policy or the financial incentives that will be made available to renewable developments. One thing that makes the country particularly attractive for solar PV development is the growing deployment of energy storage solutions across Ireland, which should make solar technology easier to integrate.

The Irish solar landscape could grow to around 3.7 GW by 2030, said a report released in November 2015 by the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

The report concluded that the rapid cost reduction of solar seen globally since 2008 could deliver large-scale solar in Ireland at a cost of €150/MWh, and if just €670 million in investment in the sector was forthcoming between 2017 and 2030, the solar industry of Ireland could support around €2 billion of Gross Added Value.

Further information is available at https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/05/02/ireland-interest-grows-in-large-scale-solar/

Fermanagh & Omagh District Council continues commitment to sustainable development

FODC logo

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council are committed to positively contributing towards the achievement of sustainable development and as such have a Sustainable Development Policy in place which is also accompanied by an annual Sustainable Development Action Plan.

Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of people today and providing them with a good quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations.

It is characterised typically as achieving an optimum balance between social, environmental and economic considerations.  In achieving this balance, sustainable development aims to maximise the benefits of social, environmental and economic initiatives by mitigating negative and increasing positive impacts.

By working in accordance with our Sustainable Development Policy, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will:

  • Consider sustainability in all its actions and decisions
  • Progressively integrate sustainability principles into its daily activities
  • Seek to increase the awareness of sustainable development generally
  • Ensure that where possible, council activities support the achievement of sustainable development
  • Strive to act as an exemplar for sustainable development, ensuring policies and actions provide a lead to the local and wider community

To download a copy of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Sustainable Development Policy and Action Plan, or to find out more about sustainable development projects and initiatives which the Council are involved in, visit https://www.fermanaghomagh.com/your-council/sustainable-development/

For further information on sustainable development in general, visit http://www.sustainableni.org/

Brexit implications for business and the environment in Northern Ireland

Brexit

In addition to the 2020 renewable energy and environmental objectives, the EU has defined its new   objectives for 2030. They are a 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses, a 27% improvement in energy efficiency and a 27% share of renewable energy in the primary energy supply. This objective has been defined, including the United Kingdom and revolves around two main axes: the reduction of greenhouse gasses and the share of renewable energy in the energy supply. The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU will impact on the total commitment made for 2030.

It is unclear how this will affect Northern Ireland, which never had legally binding targets, but was expected to contribute to the overall UK commitment. Much of our Environmental and Renewable energy targets were driven by EU Directives and it remains to be seen if the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has not convened since January 2017, because of political issues, has the determination to continue to support the environment, and mitigate climate change.

Businesses in Northern Ireland have to cope with a great deal of uncertainty, even more so than their UK counterparts, because of the land border with Ireland. Over the last twelve months, since the vote for Brexit, there has little clarity about what might happen in Northern Ireland, because the political plans for the shape of Brexit have not yet been drawn up.

If, during the course of the last year, there was greater clarity about how Brexit might be delivered, then businesses could now be clearer about what they will need to do to cope with Brexit. It is remarkable that after a year, businesses probably know less about the future shape of Brexit than they did a year ago, because the roadmap is less clear and it has become even more unclear, because of the UK General Election. The level of uncertainty has increased over the year,  rather than diminished.

The issues surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive, in Northern Ireland, have created a situation where there now appears to be a low level of trust, in both Government circles, and within social society for renewable energy. It makes the work of GREBE even more relevant in Northern Ireland, than before, and highlights the need for future policy initiatives, to support RE businesses which are trying to survive and to grow.

Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Geopark scoops top sustainable tourism award

NI-Tourism-Awards-Success

The GREBE Project congratulates the internationally renowned Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark who scooped the Sustainable Tourism award at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards recently.  The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopartk is located in Fermanagh & Omagh District Council area.  The awards, which were organised by Tourism NI and hosted at Enniskillen Castle on Thursday 18 May 2017, recognise excellence and innovation within the tourism industry.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Council’s Director of Community Health and Leisure, Robert Gibson said:

“I am delighted that Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark has been successful in this category. It is one of the Council’s flagship tourism facilities and this award is an endorsement of the Council’s efforts in managing and developing the UNESCO Global Geopark’s beautiful landscapes with great care and environmental sensitivity, while building a global tourism product that benefits local communities through trade, employment and improving access to the local environment.”

Mr Gibson added:

“the success of the other tourism facilities within the district at the awards is indicative of the superb tourism product on offer here in the Fermanagh and Omagh area.”

The awards ceremony recognised tourism facilities and individuals across 13 different categories. The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark was one of two category winners from the Fermanagh and Omagh district on the night with Finn Lough Forest Domes securing the Unique Tourism Accommodation award. Other locally based tourism facilities and businesses also enjoyed success at the awards with Belle Isle Castle and Private Island being Highly Commended and National Trust Fermanagh Florencecourt, Fermanagh Self Catering and Erne Water Taxis commended in their respective categories.

For further information on the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark , please contact Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre by telephone on 028 6634 8855 or visit Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark.

South West College in Northern Ireland lead the Digital and Environmental Skills for Facilities Management (DEFMA) Project

DEFMA

The DEFMA project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, which involves the development and making available of educational resources & materials for facility managers that aim to address the existing occupational digital and green skills needs and strengthen the employability of the profession across the EU.

South West College in Northern Ireland are the lead partner in the project which commenced last Autumn and will be completed in March 2019.  South West College is also an associated partner of the GREBE Project. DEFMA is being implemented by a partnership of five partners from five countries. The composition of the consortium guarantees that all aspects of the work plan are carried out in a competent way, ensuring high quality outcomes and efficient and effective working methods.

The Consortium of the DEFMA project consists of the following organizations:

  1. SWC -South West College, United Kingdom
  2. PROMEA -The Hellenic Society for the Promotion of Research and Development Methodologies, Greece
  3. SNS –Scuola Nazionale Servizi Foundation alongside Facility Management companies, Italy
  4. BGFMA -Bulgarian Facility Management Association, Bulgaria
  5. VSRC -Vilnius Builders Training Centre, Lithuania

The main objective of DEFMA is to develop and make available to stakeholders, organizations and companies, a novel training program on sustainable environmental management that will empower facility managers with a new skill set of competences related to energy efficiency technologies and building sustainability issues, connecting in this way Vocational Education and Training programmes with the needs of the sustainable building sector. At the same time, the DEFMA project will facilitate the validation of developed earning outcomes at European level.

Facility managers, apart from technical and management competencies, require a combination of digital and environmental skills to be able to maintain high-performance buildings capable of significantly reducing energy and water consumption. There is thus an increasing need to equip facilities managers with the skills and capacities required to:

a) support carbon emission reduction measures,

b) monitor resources consumption,

c) use “smart” building controls and up-to-date environmental technology systems (e.g. building automation),

d) identify energy losses and water leaks, rectify small faults, and carryout simple maintenances.

The project will address this challenge by increasing the relevance of VET provision for facilities managers to match their competences and skills with environmental and sustainability needs of the built environment and promote employability and mobility within the sector.

The development of the DEFMA curriculum and all related educational resources are expected to be completed in the upcoming months. It’s worth noting that all educational resources (learning units, educational material, training manuals) will be freely available online for non-profit use in the form of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).

Further information can be obtained from the project coordinator at South West College at defmaproject@gmail.com or on the website http://www.defma-project.eu/

Fermanagh & Omagh District Council Community Plan launched

Themes and outcomes 3

Following an extensive public consultation exercise in October/November 2016, we have finalised the first Community Plan for our district – Fermanagh and Omagh 2030 – and launched it at the end of March.

The Community Plan is a long-term strategic plan for our area which will be owned and delivered by the Community Planning Partnership comprising a range of statutory and support partners with the Council as lead partner.

The Community Plan will be supported by three detailed Action Plans, which we aim to publish by the summer of 2017. Together these will focus on achieving our Vision and Outcomes.

Detailed action planning is due to progress shortly based around the strategic actions which we consulted upon and, in line with the partnership ethos of the Plan, these will be led by the following agencies:

  • People and Communities: Western Health and Social Care Trust & Public Health Agency – in conjunction with FODC Director of Community, Health and Leisure
  • Economy, Infrastructure and Skills: Invest NI – in conjunction with FODC Director of Regeneration and Planning
  • Environment: Sport NI – in conjunction with FODC Director of Environment and Place.

The Community Plan will be managed using an Outcomes Based Accountability (OBA) approach, in line with the draft Programme for Government and training on this will be rolled out in the near future.  Information sessions on the Community Plan and how the Council’s Corporate Plan align to this will be scheduled for all staff.

For further information please contact Kim Weir, Community Planning and Performance (kim.weir@fermanaghomagh.com).

SSE plans Doraville Wind Farm facelift

Doraville Windfarm

SSE is to reduce turbine numbers and redesign the layout at its proposed up to 115MW Doraville wind farm in Northern Ireland.

The utility-developer is to file the new plans with Belfast’s Department for Infrastructure in response to a request for further planning information for the Tyrone project.  A reduction in turbine numbers from 36 to 33 is being envisaged, as is a new hardware layout plan.  SSE is to kick-off a further round of public consultation on the changes.

It first unveiled the project – that is yet to secure planning approval – in 2014.   SSE community liaison officer Vicky Boden said the company has made the “important revisions” after “listening to suggestions and concerns” raised during planning. “We believe this new design responds to those concerns, providing the maximum environmental protection balanced with delivering the best proposal that can go forward to help all of us meet the challenge of climate change,” she added.