There are some good short news items this week that readers should enjoy
• Community Energy Congress 2017, Melbourne Australia
Organised by the Coalition for Community Energy, the Community Energy Congress is the premier event on Australia’s community energy calendar. Congress 2017 will be held at Melbourne Town Hall on Monday 27 & Tuesday 28 February. It is driven by the desire for people to work together to develop and deliver sustainable, locally owned energy projects.
The event will bring together over 500 people to share information, develop skills and foster new relationships. Congress 2017 is aimed at everyone, including project groups and those starting out, who will have everything they need, including workshops and talks by community energy world leaders. Congress 2017 is also for organisations looking to partnering with and support community energy, including renewable energy developers, policy makers, network companies, retailers, councils, NGOs and regulators, lawyers, financiers and more.
For more information go to their website.
• New BPIE report on scaling up deep energy renovation
The Buildings Performance Institute Europe together with the Industrial Innovation for Competitiveness (I24c) has recently published a new report on how Europe can rapidly ramp up the innovation and competitiveness of the construction sector throughout the entire value chain to scale up the depth and rate of energy renovation.
The results show that successful programmes of deep energy renovation are feasible at a large scale provided they are supported by policy measures, by more collaboration between actors in the value chain. A set of ingredients must come together such as aggregation of demand; facilitators and integrators of technical solution packages; advisory services that give power to customers; having “à la carte” options designed to fulfil users’ needs and ambitious policy targets.
Implementing support measures that will encourage innovation and scaling up deep energy renovation is a ‘win-win-win’ scenario for the economy (competitiveness and jobs), society (better and smarter homes) and the environment (more renewables and cut in greenhouse gases).
Establishing a harmonised energy renovation target at the EU level and making public funding conditional on performance achieved is one of the key recommendations put forward. Another important aspect relates to empowering frontrunners such as cities, regions or private initiatives to go beyond the set goals and lead by example in order to help increase and accelerate the rate and depth of energy renovation. Public authorities should also lead by example and plan an integrated energy management approach to increase the energy performance of the building stock they own and occupy.
These recommendations serve as inspiration and motivation for policy makers at European, national and local levels to foster a comprehensive approach to deep energy renovation.
The report is available here.
• Ireland’s use of renewable energy too low
Sylvia Thompson writes in The Irish Times that just 23% of electricity generated by renewable fuels compared with 97% in Scotland
Renewable energy comprises just a fraction of Ireland’s energy generation, according the Ireland’s Environment 2016 report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Although the amount of renewable energy used to generate electricity is steadily increasing, it still only accounts for 23 per cent of our electricity generation. This compares with Scotland, where 97 per cent of household electricity was generated from wind power in 2015.
The EPA report also explains how a much greater use of renewable energies – such as wind, wave, solar, hydro and geothermal power – would bring great benefits to human health and ecosystems. This is because renewable energies do not produce greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants such as particulate matter, sulphur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide.
The EPA report says a move to a low-carbon, energy-efficient society will require “large-scale public and private investment in energy infrastructure, including energy-efficient and innovative energy management systems, energy distribution and smart grid systems”.
This means massive replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy for electricity generation. Currently, 8.6 per cent of our total energy needs come from the renewable sector, according to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (December 2015). This is less than half the EU target of 20 per cent of energy provided by renewable sources by 2020.
The residential sector is the second largest user of energy after transport, accounting for 25 per cent of total energy used in Ireland. Since 1990, there has been a move away from coal and peat to oil, gas and electricity to heat private homes. However, according to the report, fossil-fuels still dominate.
Fossil-fuel subsidies need to be phased out and further direct investment made in renewable energy technologies, says the report. It says €386 million is paid by the State annually either directly to fossil-fuel industries or as winter fuel allowances to those on social welfare.
The EPA report says developments such as energy storage systems for homes and businesses linked to local electricity generation will help change how we source and use energy. To date, solar energy has been used mainly to heat water, but better technology and cheaper photovoltaics has seen an increased use of solar energy to generate electricity in public, commercial and private buildings.