Tuesday 14 May 2013

I had a great trip to Ireland recently, speaking at the IERC conference and getting updated on the various private and public energy efficiency initiatives. Ireland is really making impressive strides to improve energy efficiency.


In February the government published its second National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) which highlighted the potential benefits to Ireland, a country that imports c.88% of its energy and has ageing power infrastructure. In the first NEEAP in 2009 the government estimated that by implementing the NEEAP Ireland could save €2.36bn, generate 5,000 jobs, a critical issue in Ireland, reduce energy use by 32,000 GWh and reduce emissions by 7.7 mt of GHG emissions.


The NEAAP set a target of 20 per cent savings across the economy and a target of 33 per cent saving in the public sector by 2020. The plan includes 97 specific actions and these include: obliging the public sector to address consumption, procurement and reporting of energy use, writing guidelines on Energy Performance Contracts (EPC), the establishment of an €70 m energy efficiency fund with €35 m being invested by the government, and establishing a domestic and non-domestic Pay as You Save (PAYS) schemes.


Another interesting initiative is the International Energy Research Centre (IERC), based at the Tyndall National Institute in Cork. IERC is a vehicle for co-operative research backed by an impressive number of large multi-nationals including United Technologies, General Motors, IBM, Alcatel-Lucent and HSG Zander and local companies such as Bord Gais. The IERC brings together industrial partners with academic institutions to undertake collaborative research in integrated sustainable energy system technologies. The IERC is already supporting a number of collaborative, industry-academia research projects driven by real industrial needs and has recently attracted additional support. The idea is to carry out research, use Ireland as a test bed and then use the technology developed in international markets.


Ireland is a small country at the edge of Europe but judging from the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan and other initiatives such as IERC it is quietly taking a leadership role in Europe in energy efficiency.

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Dr Steven Fawkes

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