As our way of living here on earth changes our systems need to change alongside them. To be different and better, these new systems need to be inclusive, fair and kinder to the earth. The movement toward these fairer systems is known as a just transition; where everyone no one is left behind. The Great Island Energy Plan is here to help us do just that.
One of the key areas that need to be transformed is our energy system. When we asked the people of Cobh at an outreach event in October 2019 what they wanted to see change drastically on our island this was one of the main discussion topics.
Transforming the energy usage of an island the size of ours with 15,000 people using energy at home, while traveling and at work daily is a huge challenge. But every challenge is an opportunity for growth. With that in mind we are asking ourselves questions like these ones;
How can we make this change where people feel included, informed and supported?
How can we help people save energy at home?
Can we enable people access grant aid to retrofit their homes?
What is the best way to enhance electric car usage and access on the Great Island?
We have a few ideas and projects in motion which I will tell you about below. However, we know that the best way to make this transition is to hear from you so if you have ideas and solutions please let us know.
Our Energy Plan
Our first port of call is to create an energy-independent community building on the island. This building will be a safe haven and act as an example for people to see an energy-efficient building in the community This will mean installing a renewable energy source, likely solar panels, on the building, educating staff and users on energy saving techniques and doing a deep retrofit to fit it out with insulation and heat pumps. We’re discussing the idea with a few community groups and we have applied for funding with the LEADER program. We expect to see this completed within 3 years.
We are in the process of developing a partnership with the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI). As a Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) we are eligible for funding to create an Energy Master Plan which will act as a road map to transform our community. Our vision is a zero carbon, circular economy on our island where nothing is wasted and renewable energy fuels our way of life.
Since September 2019, members of Cobh Zero Waste have been learning about and developing an Energy Plan for our island with the help of local development agencies like SECAD and the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI). Through a community support program, we have a working plan which we have submitted to Cork County Council to be considered for the county development plan 2022-2028.
Through all of this, we know that supporting one another is the most important part. To facilitate this we will soon be having monthly “Energy & Coffee” morning (Hopefully in person!). Where folks like you and I can meet to hear from experts and chat about our successes, failures, worries and ideas as we switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy on the Great Island. Keep an eye out for updates on this on our social media pages and we’ll see you then!
If you want to be involved in the process on the Energy Plan Committee please get in touch we would love to hear from you.
Melanie O’Driscoll || 11-June-2020