The South East Energy Agency is very proud to support 60 sustainable energy communities in the southeast of Ireland. The agency works together with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which also recently celebrated achieving the goal of 500 Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) nationally.
Each with their own journey towards energy efficiency and energy independence, these 60 communities are working through the “learning, planning and doing” steps of the programme, becoming ever more knowledgeable about energy and confident when it comes delivering projects to benefit their communities.
Eight communities have carried out a comprehensive study into their energy use and devised an Energy Master Plan for saving energy and the hope is that many more communities go through this process in the coming years. Other communities have invested in improving the fabric of their community buildings and some have even developed their own renewable energy projects, taking control of how energy is produced and not just how it is used. This programme is funded by SEAI and there is a large amount of collaboration with local authorities and leader partnerships in the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford.
In December 2021, Callan Community Energy in County Kilkenny opened a new solar-powered EV charging station in the Callan Supervalu carpark, supported by South East Energy Agency.
This fantastic project will provide up to 22kw of fast charging capability to support Callan residents’ transition to electric vehicles. The electricity sales will be paid directly to the community energy company. It is the first community-owned EV charge point in Ireland, a beaming icon of Callan Community Energy and its first project.
The Communities Energy Grant (CEG) also known as the Better Energy Communities (BEC) is a national retrofit initiative managed by the SEAI. The public sector, businesses, SMEs, and commercial facilities can qualify for up to 30% funding for energy saving measures such as insulation, window and door upgrades, heating controls, solar thermal, solar PV, replacement of fossil fuel boilers with renewable energy technology such as heat pumps – and much more to lower energy bills while reducing energy usage and carbon emissions.
The first step on this journey is to get an energy assessment report completed. There are three types of energy assessments: walk-through assessments, detailed assessments and financial grade assessment. Each of these assessments will have different costs associated with them. Costs will depend on the size of the facility, type of facility and time spent working on the assessment.
The Commercial Sector accounts for 6.7% of the total energy demand nationally, and 11% across the 3 Counties in the Southeast. In the 3 counties region of Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford the total number of commercial businesses in 2017 was 32,609, consuming 1,014GWh of energy. To achieve the 2030 Climate Action Plan across the 3 counties, this consumption needs to reduce by 30% to 720GWh. This will result in an annual cost saving of over €17million across the businesses. This is an average of €521 per company. The SEAI state that “for a company with a 5% profit margin over 3 years, a €500-a-year saving from energy efficiency makes the same profit as €30,000 of extra sales”. (SEAI SME Guide to Energy Efficiency).