Great interview with Dara Ó Maoildhia on behalf of the Aran Islands Energy group.

When was the Aran Islands Energy group set up and what was the inspiration to do so?

It was set up formally as a Cooperative in 2012. Before that it was a sub-committee of the Development Coop of Inis Mor. The inspiration for it was our tradition on the islands of being self-sufficient. We want to regain that sense of being in control of our destiny and drawing from the resources around us.

 Some of the committee (not all of them).

What initiatives are you working on?

We have a broad range of initiatives.
Primarily, retrofitting homes across all three islands.
Replacing oil heating with heat pumps in buildings
introducing PV to buildings
promoting electric cars
planning the construction of 3 wind turbines
involvement in 4 EU funded research projects:
Community Power http://communitypower.ie/ and http://www.nweurope.eu/projects/project-search/cvpp-community-based-virtual-power-plant/#tab-1
value to us: we have a utility that will buy and sell our own generated electricity. We will be shareholders in the co-op.
RESPOND – demand/response technology in people’s homes http://project-respond.eu/
value to us: selected homes are having smart sensors and meters installed for free and they are being taught how to use them to better control their energy use and to save money.
GEOFIT – new technologies and techniques in geothermal heating http://geofit-project.eu/
value to us: one house will be fully retrofitted free of charge in order to be geothermal ready. If the budget stretches far enough, they will have the geothermal heating installed.
SEAFUEL – researching possibilities for hydrogen production http://www.seafuel.eu/the-project/
a feasibility study will be done on Inis Mor to assess the feasibility of producing hydrogen here from surplus wind energy.
EU Islands initiative to promote the transition agenda
value to us: we are getting a lot of professional support in rolling out our Energy Transition Plan for the islands here.

What are your biggest wins to date?

Retrofitting of buildings. We will have 50% of homes retrofitted by the end of this year.

Introductions of heat pumps and P’V.

There are now 11 electric cars and vans on Inis Mor. Also electric bikes.

The Orkneys seem to be doing very well in terms of renewable energy, do you hope to achieve something similar?

Yes, we are very inspired by the Orkneys. We want to visit them and partner with them in a number of EU funded projects.

You are involved in a few EU programs, tell us about these, and if they all go well, what would be a successful outcome for you?

I have listed the 4 we are involved in above. We are also partnered in a number of other applications which may or may not be approved.

The most exciting one for us is the plan to use the Aran Islands as a location for the roll out of Smart Grid technology that will allow us to buy and sell our own generated electricity to each other.

How can people find out more about your activities?

Website: www.aranislandsenergycoop.ie
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AranIslandsenergy
https://www.facebook.com/AranIslands.EcoTours
Twitter: @aranislandsenergy
Instagram: #aran_islands_energy
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC54SnXKjHsWL2MupvjOt1eg

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Our co-op is community owned. We have over 80 shareholders at present and are aiming for a 100% participation from the local population (total 1300 people or about 500 households).
It is participative and democratic with a strong emphasis on a Code of Governance.
We promote the energy transition as not just about climate change and getting rid of fossil fuels, but as an opportunity for our islands to be at the forefront of a new economic revolution based on local ownership of energy resources.
We have a mantra that the ’Secondary Benefits’ of this transition will be more important than the immediate energy goals.
Already we see this in our ability as a non-profit to employ two islanders in the co-op.

Here are our 10 aims:

Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta

Ionad Colm Ó hIarnáin, Cill Rónáin, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway

The objects of the Society are:-
• To secure the future energy needs of the three Aran Islands by
gaining a controlling interest in the local sources of alternative
energy production.
• To reduce and gradually remove the dependency of the Aran Islands
communities on fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal, including transport) by
replacing them with alternative and more sustainable sources of
energy.
• To preserve the islands’ unique language, heritage and culture by
providing sustainable employment and a sustainable environment for
people to live in.
• To facilitate the conversion of homes and other buildings on the
three islands to be more sustainable in their energy usage.
• To provide low-cost energy to industry so as to create employment
on the islands
• To create, provide and encourage employment in projects of
sustainable energy
• To facilitate and at least part-own initiatives and projects in research
and development into sustainable energy.

• To provide education and training to both residents and non-
residents in sustainable living.

• The create on the three Aran Islands an example of best practice In
sustainability to the rest of Ireland and to the world.
• To use the three Aran Islands as a platform from which to promote
sustainability and environmental protection worldwide.

Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta

Ionad Colm Ó hIarnáin, Cill Rónáin, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway

Is iad seo a leanas cuspóirí an Chumainn:-
Na riachtanais fuinnimh a bheidh ag na trí cinn d’Oileáin Árann amach
anseo a dhaingniú trí leas rialaithe a fháil sna foinsí áitiúla as a
dtáirgfí fuinneamh eile.
Cleithiúnas mhuintir Oileáin Árann ar bhreoslaí iontaise (ola, gás, gual,
lena n-áirítear iompar) a laghdú agus a chealú de réir a chéile trí
fhoinsí eile agus foinsí fuinnimh níos inbhuanaithe a chur ina n-áit.
Teanga, oidhreacht agus cultúr faoi leith na n-oileán a chaomhnú trí
fhostaíocht inbhuanaithe a sholáthar agus comhshaol inbhuanaithe a
bheith ann ag daoine le maireachtáil ann.
Cúnamh a thabhairt le tithe agus foirgnimh eile ar na trí oileán a chur in
oiriúint ó thaobh fuinnimh de le go mbeadh an úsáid a bhainfí as an
bhfuinneamh níos inbhuanaithe.
Fuinneamh ar chostas íseal a sholáthar d’earnáil na tionsclaíochta le go
bhféadfaí fostaíocht a chruthú ar na hoileáin
Fostaíocht a chruthú, a sholáthar agus a spreagadh i dtionscadail an
fhuinnimh inbhuanaithe
Tionscnaimh agus tionscadail bainteach le taighde agus forbairt i
bhfuinneamh inbhuanaithe a éascú agus iad a bheith faoi
pháirtúinéireacht an chumainn, ar a laghad.
Teagasc agus oiliúint sa mhaireachtáil inbhuanaithe a chur ar fáil do
dhaoine a chónaíonn ar na hoileáin agus do dhaoine nach
gcónaíonn orthu.
Sampla den chleachtas is fearr san inbhuanaitheacht a bheith bunaithe
ar na trí cinn d’Oileáin Árann agus go mbeadh sé sin ann le feiceáil
ag an gcuid eile d’Éirinn agus ag an domhan mór.
Leas a bhaint as Oileáin Árann mar ardán as a gcuirfí an
inbhuanaitheacht agus cosaint an chomhshaoil chun cinn ar fud an
domhain.


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