IRELAND, Friday 29th December 2006 – Millions of Euro will be wasted on heating poorly insulated homes in 2007, according to one of Ireland’s leading renewable energy associations. The Renewable Energy Skills Accel Project is seeking Government intervention through the provision of grant aid to homeowners wishing to undertake energy audits. The network is also urging the Government to extend the ‘Greener Homes Scheme’, which aims to increase the use of renewable energy and sustainable energy technologies in Irish homes.
According to Dick Whelan, Project Manager, Renewable Energy Skills, “The government need to put in place incentives to encourage householders to upgrade their poorly insulated homes. Incentives could include exemptions, tax breaks for householders and grants for people in the lower income groups who suffer from hardship of fuel poverty. I would also welcome an extension of Sustainable Energy Ireland’s ‘Greener Homes Scheme’, under which grants are provided to new and existing home owners to cover the purchase, installation and commissioning of renewable technologies. The Scheme also helps decrease reliance on fossil fuels thereby reducing emissions of CO2.”
Johnny Flynn, Ennis Town Councillor and Chairperson of the Renewable Energy Skills Network, “There are many vulnerable people in our communities, such as the elderly and low income households, who are living in homes without adequate insulation. Without adequate insulation, which makes these buildings practically impossible to heat, these people are suffering from health problems and are also facing huge fuel bills.”
Cllr. Flynn explained, however, that many householders are becoming increasingly aware of the economic and environmental benefits associated with increased energy efficiency. “There has been a phenomenal increase in the number of installations of renewable energy heating systems this year. This increase largely brought about by spiralling fuel prices and, of course, the introduction of a number of grant initiatives including the ‘Green Homes Scheme’. Sustainable Energy Ireland’s ‘House of Tomorrow’ programme, which provides funding to developers for the design and construction of clusters of superior energy performing housing units, is also a positive step towards increased energy efficient homes”, he added.
The issue of energy efficiency in the home featured prominently at the 2nd National Renewable Energy Heating Conference held in Bunratty, County Clare last month. Hosted by Renewable Energy Skills, the event brought together professionals and trades in the industry, architects, engineers, industry leaders, policy makers, suppliers and academics to share information and exchange ideas on technology trends and best practices in the areas of Training, Industry and Policy across Europe. Guest Speaker Duncan Stewart spoke on ‘Energy Efficient Design’ and the design trends in Europe that are impacting and influencing the Heating Specification market in Ireland.
Addressing those in attendance, the national television presenter and architect said, “Major challenges expected now and into the future will largely focus on the need for high standards of energy performance on all new buildings. Fossil fuels will no longer be cost effective and the restrictions on CO2 emissions will be prohibitive. The upgrading of existing buildings both commercial and residential as well as the effects of fuel poverty on low-income households must be examined in order to establish systems of support to ensure an even transformation of our current practices. Local Authorities will play a key role in this endeavor.”
There is currently a growing trend amongst Local Authorities to promote sustainable development in buildings, particularly in housing. “Design guidelines for local authority, voluntary and social housing in Clare and Limerick are being developed”, Pat Stephens, Manager of the Limerick Clare Energy Agency told those in attendance at the Conference.
Mr. Stephens continued, “The Local Authority design guides, which are also being prepared at present, will form the basis of proposed Rural Housing Design Guides. Local Authorities are also reviewing their Local Area Plans, and incorporating more requirements and conditions that better reflect Ireland’s need for energy conservation, efficiency and CO2 reductions. On a Mid West Regional level, exemptions to planning permission are under review, which may soon apply to renewable energy technologies, and the submissions that are being made at county, regional level.”
The Renewable Energy Skills network was established in Ennis in early 2004 and with the help of funding from Skillnets it quickly established two local chapters in Clare and Kerry. The network was established to provide training and support to trades and professionals who were active or interested in developing their business in the Renewable Energy Heating sector. During 2004/05 the network concentrated on development and role out of six core modules in the technologies and related topics. Towards the end of 2005 the network was successful in securing Accel funding for 2006/07. In January 2006, the Project Advisory Group determined that the main focus of the network for 2006 was to provide training while increasing the membership nationally and to gain FETAC certification. In 10 months the network has attracted over one hundred members and has hosted over sixty training days in counties Sligo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork Waterford, Laois and Dublin. Over 200 individual trainees attended the training events.
Anyone interested in exhibiting at the Renewable Energy Show or attending any of the training provided nationally by Renewable Energy Skills can log on to renewableenergy.ie, call 087-2644117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editor:
- Dick Whelan, Renewable Energy Skills (061-329744/086-8198188), Johnny Flynn, Chairperson, Renewable Energy Skills (087-2571842) and/or Duncan Stewart are available for interview. For further information please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 email@example.com
- Mr. Dick Whelan has extensive experience in collaboration and network facilitation and has held a range of roles in a number of Regional, National and European projects. He is Managing Director of Almir Business Ltd., which he established in 1999 providing management support and consultancy to a wide range of clients.
- Mr. Johnny Flynn is an Environmentalist, Engineer, Ennis Town Councillor and Chairman of the Renewable Energy Skills Group. He has worked to promote Renewable Energy Usage in Clare since 2003 as a founding chairman of CLEAN (Clare Energy Action Network) and RE Skills, and as a member of the Irish Wind Energy Association he has lobbied for the harnessing of Wind Energy for electricity generation. Currently a member of the Advisory Group of the Clare Wood Energy Project, which is attempting to harness biomass opportunities as renewable energy supplies for heating within Clare.
- Mr. Duncan Stewart is an award-winning architect, a specialist in ecological design and energy. Duncan worked extensively in Europe and the USA before establishing his practice in Dublin where he added television production to an already impressive CV.
- Mr. Pat Stephens has worked in the field of Building Services Design & Energy Management for over 15 years, and has over 25 years experience working in the construction industry.
- Accel is an in-company training initiative aimed at accelerating skills of people at all levels within firms in Ireland. It provides a unique opportunity for enterprises, management and staff to rapidly up skill workers to provide career progression and employability and respond to specific competitive challenges. Accel is an initiative of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and is managed by Skillnets Services Ltd on its behalf. The European Social Fund and the National Training Fund fund the programme. Website www.acceltraining.com