Millions of euro leaves the country each year on Transport, Heating and Electricity energy costs, and all of this could be replaced by locally produced renewable energy in the community according to the results of a Sustainable Energy Renewable Energy Study which were revealed at a public forum during last weeks Energy Week in Clonakilty, West Cork.
The inaugural Clonakilty Energy Week organised by Sustainable Clonakilty was a great success; the organisers say. With an array of events organised to attract as many and as diverse a range of people as possible from Monday 18th to 24th October, the event attracted lots of attention and favourable comment. In organising the week, Sustainable Clonakilty aimed to get it’s message out to as many people as possible, especially young people, about the Clonergy 2020 project. This aims to have Clonakilty and surrounding areas providing as much energy locally as possible in the next 10 years, by replacing the community’s 95% dependence on imported, fossil fuel energy which will become scarcer and more expensive as time goes by.
Over 400 children from the local primary schools attended free workshops on environment and how to cut down on waste and be sustainable during the week. Throughout the week, energy providers were at the Waterfront to offer advice to citizens on how to reduce their energy and their bills. “50 Mile Meals” were available on the menus of a dozen restaurants and cafés, to show how we can support local producers, and keep money local.
Duncan Stewart of “Eco Eye” programme spent a whole day recording local sustainable initiatives, and addressed a crowd on the opening night, followed by a thought provoking film at the cinema – “The Vanishing of the Bees” which showed how pesticide use in the US is devastating bee colonies.
An Taisce reps were on hand to talk about the “Green Homes” programme which is about basic common sense and how by making small adjustments in our homes, we can all conserve and cut down on energy and thereby save money. There was an interesting talk on “Sustainable Building” methods by Thomas Riedmuller from “The Hollies Centre” near Enniskeane.
Perhaps the most important event of the week was the launch of the Sustainable Clonakilty Renewable Energy Study. Consultant Xavier Dubission had worked for around 6 months researching the quantities, types and sources of all energy usage in the Clonakilty and district area. Not surprisingly, on a par with national statistics, 95% of the transport, electricity and heating energy sources in this area are derived from imported fossil fuels. In economic terms, this is a staggering €23 million/year leaving this area, and leaving the country every year on current costs. This figure stunned many people, as they pondered on all the things that could be done with such money if it was being kept locally and used for the economy of the area. In his detailed report, Xavier went on to show how we could easily replace 100% of this by designing and building facilities whereby we would produce all our energy needs.
There are opportunities for farmers and everyone in the community to get involved. He recalled how a delegation from Sustainable Clonakilty had travelled to the Austrian town of Gussing two years ago, where that community has cut out the importation of energy, and are producing all their own and exporting some as well. That town hosts approx. 400 people each week who come on business and on “eco tourism” trips directly as a result of how they have transformed their area into a sustainable community. Clonakilty could easily do the same, and if we started planning now it could be achieved buy the year 2020.
Friday morning saw Sustainable Clon members, along with the two local Mayors, gather to see off the Walking Bus of St. Joseph’s Girls National School. And a conference in Darrara College saw a speaker from the Cloughjordan eco-village in north Tipperary, the Callan Nexus Project in Kilkenny, a speaker from SEAI on Bioenergy Options, the Templederry Community Wind Farm and from U.C.C. who gave a talk on “Biogas from Grass”. That evening saw a Pedal Power demonstration and great local music in Shanley’s.
Saturday saw many people availing of free advice and consultation with local renewable energy providers and suppliers/installers. The annual Community Garden Awards were also presented. The Energy Week concluded on Sunday with glorious weather just right for the 60 or so people that took part in a relaxed cycle from town to Inchydoney and back