Seminar discusses future investments in sustainable energy

Local Government representatives and energy experts from throughout Ireland and Europe gathered in Limerick County Hall this week to participate in a sustainable energy seminar.

The event was hosted by the Mid West Regional Authority (MWRA) as part of its participation in the European STEP Project, which is focused on the improvement of sustainable energy policy in the Local Government sector.

Entitled “Alternative financing tools for Sustainable Energy”, the thematic seminar featured speakers from Ireland, Germany, Spain and Finland on a range of issues including Financing Energy Efficiency Projects, Renewable Energy Plans and Ireland’s National Energy Services Framework.

Commenting on the MWRA’s participation in the STEP project, MWRA Director Anthony Coleman said: “Managed by the EU INTERREG IVC and funded by the European Regional Development Fund, this project has already led to a significant increase in the transfer of good practice across Europe. The Regional Authority is working with its European partner regions on an ongoing basis to identify problems and develop good practice guides to improve local sustainable energy policy tools. For example, we are planning to shortly transfer an example of Good practice from Germany on the subject of Municipal Energy Management.”

“From a regional perspective, the main objectives of the STEP project are to create a set of regional good practices that help to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and to increase the amount of renewable energy generated and consumed in North Tipperary, Clare and Limerick,” he added.

Mr. Coleman noted that a great deal has already been achieved in the Mid West Region of Ireland in relation the implementation of sustainable energy policy.

“A fortnight ago, for example, Clare County Council became one of the first local authorities in the country to seek to incorporate a Renewable Energy Strategy into their County Development Plan. Other good examples from around the region include The Cloughjordan Eco-village, Clare County Hall as a sustainable public building heated by biomass, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre as a sustainable energy efficient building, North Tipperary County Council’s internal energy savings of 33% since 2008, and Limerick City and County Council’s introduction of an Energy Management Code of Practice.”

Speakers and topics discussed at the seminar included Alan Ryan, Public Sector Programme Manager, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (An overview of the National Energy Services Framework); Michael Malone, Midlands Regional Authority (Laois County Council, Road Recycling Project); David Hourihane, Sustainable Development Capital Ltd. (Financing Energy Efficiency Projects); Irmeli Mikkonen, Expert in Energy and Material Efficiency, Finland (Voluntary Tools for increasing energy efficiency in Finland); Francisco Bernabé Pérez, Mayor of La Union, Region of Murcia (ESCO public private investment model: the case of La Union); and Paul Kenny, CEO Tipperary Energy Agency (Launch of MWRA GP transfer).

Xavier Dubuisson of XD Consulting also made a presentation on the “Covenant of Mayors” concept and how it has benefited Kerry County Council’s sustainable energy experience.

According to Majella O’Brien, the MWRA’S EU Projects Officer: “This concept is something that local authorities in the Mid West should consider.”

She explained: “The Covenant of Mayors is the mainstream European movement involving local and regional authorities, voluntarily committing to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources on their territories. By their commitment, Covenant signatories aim to meet and exceed the European Union 20% CO2 reduction objective by 2020.”