Communities call on Government to support Community Owned Renewable Energy
Monday, 7th December 2015.
Imagine a community putting its hands up and deciding to build a wind farm. Imagine all the schools in a town running on clean free solar electricity. Imagine your heating is powered by biomass and waste from the local farms. Imagine the profits from the local renewable energy project are shared by the local energy co-operative and the individuals and communities who are part of it. Imagine we owned all or part of the renewable energy that powers our lives.
This is the vision for almost 100 community groups, co-operatives, energy agencies and NGO’s who have today launched the Community Energy Proclamation. For the first time in Ireland this Community Energy Proclamation recognises communities as active participants in the clean energy transition, and as the best way to unlock the renewable energy potential in Ireland.
Minister Alex White is in Paris today meeting with Climate and Energy Ministers from around the world to negotiate a global deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Back at home, we are reliant on fossil fuels for over 90% of our energy, and the road to future is anything but clear. The recent backlash against wind energy tell us only one thing really is for sure, the transformative change for a clean energy future will not happen without the power of the people.
Kate Ruddock, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Friends of the Earth said,
‘In contrast to many European counties, Community owned renewable energy in Ireland is practically non-existent. A fundamental shift in policy is required that views citizens and communities as essential partners in securing our sustainable energy future, not obstacles to be negotiated. How is it right that we subsidise peat and gas power plants, but there are no payments for solar electricity or for microgeneration? Or that, the system supports developers to build wind farms, but there is no mechanism for community participation in renewable energy.
Davie Philip, Cloughjordan Eco Village said,
‘Every time we pay our energy bills, millions of euros pour out of our communities that could have stayed there creating jobs and energy security. A community will be more resilient and be able to reduce its carbon footprint if it can contribute to the generation of the energy it needs’
Cormac Walsh, Energy Co-operatives Ireland said,
‘When an energy co-operative develops a project, jobs, income and expertise stays local. We are working with energy co-ops in Ireland and across Europe. There are some 2,400 Energy Co-ops in Europe. I am confident if we could remove some of the barriers here in Ireland we could have energy co-operatives in every county.’
The proclamation calls for a number of policy changes to allow communities to participate in Ireland’s energy and to allow the community energy industry to develop. These include setting a target for community energy in Ireland and removing a number of technical and financial barriers such as access to the grid, payments for solar energy for micro-generation and for renewable heat, and support and advice structures to enable community groups to develop renewable energy projects.
The Communtiy Energy Proclamation is available at this link http://www.foe.ie/download/pdf/community_energy_proclamation.pdf