Minister for Energy Alex White, TD, today (Wednesday) announced €20 million in grant offers for local communities under the 2016 Better Energy Communities scheme. The scheme, which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), has supported 260 community energy efficiency projects over the last four years. As a result over 12,000 homes and community buildings have received energy efficiency upgrades, supporting several hundred jobs each year.
Minister White said: “This funding will enable the Better Energy Communities programme to continue to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions, while improving living standards and quality of life for the people and communities it supports. The building upgrades funded under the programme support local construction jobs, demonstrating that lower-carbon communities also reap positive economic and social benefits. The programme has grown year on year as communities work together to bring about real and lasting change in the energy efficiency of their homes, businesses and community buildings. Putting communities in control of their own energy usage will be among the core themes of the energy white paper, which I will publish next week.”
Better Energy Communities 2016 will open for applications in the New Year and potential applicants are being encouraged to start engaging early with community partners for large or small projects. The 2016 programme will see a particular focus on innovative financing models and SEAI is encouraging applications from communities that haven’t previously availed of the scheme. This will be supported by SEAI through the provision of expert technical guidance and assistance to build up skills and capacity at a local level to allow them to develop into a Sustainable Energy Community.
An example of a community that has benefited from the Better Energy Communities programme already is Camphill Community, a charitable trust working with people with intellectual disabilities. Camphill Community teamed up with Glas Energy to make 99 buildings across the public and private sectors more energy efficient. Another community project has seen businesses, not-for-profit organisations and local government unite across Cavan and Monaghan to cut energy waste. The energy services provider, REIL, led an extensive cooperation among a wide range of sectors including chicken producer Manor Farm, commercial poultry farmers, the Monaghan and Cavan County Councils, 44 homes, a school and crèche to improve the energy performance of buildings.
Commenting on the innovation demonstrated in BEC projects John Randles, Head of Delivery with SEAI said, “Better Energy Communities is one of SEAI’s key programmes which brings benefits to private, public and community organisations whilst they collaborate and demonstrate that energy efficient and renewable technologies work. This is often achieved by innovative partnerships and innovative financing and delivery solutions. The projects being delivered are becoming more ambitious as the programme has grown and this is thanks to the outstanding and combined efforts of so many willing partners who are focused on a common goal for their community.”
Mr Randles concluded, “With almost €20 million in grants available in 2016, SEAI would like to see new ways of delivering the projects that can bring the maximum benefit to local areas.”
Further details on the application process for Better Energy Communities 2016, including guidance notes, will shortly be available on www.seai.ie.
– See more at: http://www.seai.ie/News_Events/Press_Releases/2015/Minister-Alex-White-announces-%E2%82%AC20-million-in-grant-offers-for-energy-efficiency-.html#sthash.VDY6AZNv.dpuf