- 04 October 2012
The final event of the four-year SERVE (Sustainable Energy for the Rural Village Environment) project in North Tipperary has commenced and continues until Friday (October 5) at the Abbey Court Hotel in Nenagh. ‘SERVE Energy Week’ features contributions from national experts on sustainable energy and participants in the project, which has been managed by LIT Tipperary in conjunction with North Tipperary County Council, SPIL and the Tipperary Energy Agency.
The five-day initiative also features site visits to SERVE projects, including Ireland’s only ecovillage in Cloughjordan. Project Manager Seamus Hoyne confirmed that SERVE has delivered an investment of €10.5m in sustainable energy in the region.
Mr. Hoyne said the project has resulted in 400 buildings receiving significant energy upgrades, and the development of an eco-village in Cloughjordan that is 100% supplied by renewable heating system and has the largest solar array (506m2) in Ireland.
Mr. Hoyne, who is Acting Head of L.I.T. Tipperary’s Technology, Media and Science Department, said the results of the SERVE project provide ample evidence of the benefits associated with adopting a more proactive approach to embracing sustainable energy policies.
He continued: "Of the 300 homes which completed upgrades, approximately €200,000 was saved in energy consumption. If this level of savings was applied to all Irish homes the total savings would be €1bn per annum. Monitoring of energy consumption of 100 houses has shown some startling results. Electricity wasted by leaving appliances on standby could save €35 per home. If this was applied to all houses in Ireland this would equate to annual energy costs savings of €56m.
"The rate of return for the investment in sustainable energy for houses in the SERVE region was 10% which is significantly better than the average rate of return in a deposit savings account. With increasing fuel prices the rate of return will increase further making energy efficiency a sound investment. Furthermore, homes which have poor insulation levels not only lose energy but also are uncomfortable for residents. Our analysis has shown that during major temperature changes (20C to 3C), the internal temperature only changes by 2C in a well-insulated house."
Mr. Hoyne added that investment in biomass heating for commercial and public buildings could save the exchequer hundreds of thousands of euro.
"An investment of €205,000 in a biomass heating system at a public pool in the SERVE region has resulted in annual savings of €25,000 to €30,000 per annum. Assuming all pools and leisure centres which are off the Natural Gas Grid where to make similar investments, one job will be created per €250,000 invested," he stated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hoyne claimed that 90,000 Irish homes will need to undergo significant energy upgrades every year up to 2020 if the country is to adhere to the legal obligations under the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. The Directive was adopted by the European Parliament on 11 September 2012 and is expected to come into force in November.
EU Members States will eventually face fines if they fail to comply with the new Directive, which is aimed at driving energy efficiency improvements in households, industries and transport sectors.
An estimated one million Irish buildings will be required to undergo energy upgrades by 2020 as part of compliance with the Directive and the National Energy Retrofit Programme.