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AT THE launch of an Energy Master Plan for Clooney/Spancilhill are (L-R): Gearoid Fitzgibbon SEAI Mentor; Brian O'Doherty Environment Group of Clooney/Spancilhill Development Association; Seán Earls, Environment Group; Niamh Wiley Rural Community Development Officer Clare County Council; Councillor Joe Cooney Cathaoirleach of Killaloe Municipal District; Tom Larkin Chairperson, Clooney/Spancilhill Community Development and Peter Sheehy Chairperson of the Environment Group.  Missing from the photo are Deirdre Woodrow and Mick Murphy.

Clare community seeks to halve energy use inside seven years

A REDUCTION of 50% in energy use in homes and non-residential properties is a target that the community of Clooney/Spancillhill has set itself over the next seven years. 

Also outlined in the recently-launched Energy Masterplan for the area are opportunities for a community-owned solar farm, a coppice to produce biomass, smart meters, solar panels, a sustainable bus service and more charging points for electric vehicles.

The visionary document has been produced by Clooney/Spancilhill Development Association through funding and mentoring support from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Mentor Gearóid Fitzgibbon was among those to attend the launch of the Masterplan in Clooney last Wednesday night (March 25), as well as officials from Clare County Council and the Killaloe Municipal District Cathaoirleach, Councillor Joe Cooney. 

Clooney National School will also play a key role. As part of the process of drawing up the plan, it was chosen for an energy audit from the non-residential sector. From the energy saving measures identified 24.6MWhr/year (64%) in energy savings could be achieved, saving 7.5 tons of CO2 per year and an average cost of €2,332 in each year for each building if the energy upgrades are completed. The estimated cost for upgrades to both buildings would be in the region of €219,724.

Thanks to funding of €10,000, from the SEAI’s Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) programme, the community was able to commission a plan that looks at existing and future energy needs in terms of power, heat, and transport and identifies priorities and opportunities for action.

The masterplan is the second of a five-step process to create an SEC. This has established the baseline energy consumption for a given year, and the formulation of a Register of Opportunities (RoO) that will deliver significant energy demand reductions and contributions from renewable energy sources. In this case, the study area consists of 25 townlands in the electoral divisions of

The baseline year for the Energy Master Plan is 2016 and a reduction of 50% in energy use in residential and non-residential buildings within the community is the aim. The group also wishes to investigate the potential for renewable energy in the area to help meet some of the energy demand of the area, with a particular focus on the local farming and forestry sectors.

This report estimates that the Clooney/Spancilhill SEC has an energy usage of 14,224MWh/yr. Total emissions are estimated at 3,915 tons of CO2 a year. The current estimate for spending on energy – fuel, electricity and heating – comes in at €3.272 million euro per year.

To achieve a 50% cut in energy use, it aims to retrofit 259 homes by 2029. This will require an estimated investment of €10.9 million. With €25,000 in grant support now being made available in 2022 for the retrofitting of individual homes, that investment is reduced to €5.5 million.

The community could then save an estimated €315,946 per year, when this work is completed. The greenhouse gas savings from home retrofitting in Clooney/Spancilhill SEC would be in the order of 24% per year when the full program of work is completed.

Smart meter deployment in Clooney/Spancilhill has been identified as another opportunity which would complement the installation of rooftop solar PV systems in the area.

With almost three-quarters (74%) of car owners commuting to and from work daily, there is also potential for a sustainable local bus route to reduce the energy used on transport.

For the transport sector cut energy consumption by half, 467 private electrical vehicles (EVs) and 36 commercial EVs would need to be on the roads of Clooney/Spancilhill. The lack of EV charging infrastructure in the Clooney/Spancilhill SEC and surroundings has been identified as something that needs to be immediately addressed.

Potential energy savings of 50% have also been identified for the local farming sector. This would involve upgrades of hot water heating systems, upgrade of lighting and pumps and milk-cooling equipment to more modern and energy efficient as well as with the installation of Solar PV on farms where applicable.

Energy Savings from LED lighting upgrades of sheds which house livestock over the winter months can also be made and schemes like TAMS Ⅱ can offer up to 60% in grants.

In addition, a community-owned Solar PV farm could provide locally-produced green electricity in the area and further assist in decarbonisation of the local and national electricity grid. The possibility of a two-turbine wind farm, which also would be community-owned is activity being

investigated by the Clooney/Spancilhill SEC. Suitable land has been identified for the installation on two 3 MW wind turbines, that would produce approximately 12,089MWhr of energy per year for the next 20 years. The investment cost would be in the region of €4.6 million euros with estimated annual revenue of €1.26 million euros per year once the initial payback period is overcome. 

The masterplan also identifies potential for a 50-acre short rotation coppice forest in the area to

produce biomass in the form of wood chip that would supply local business in the surroundings areas like the town of Ennis. This project would also enhance the flora and fauna of the area thereby creating a natural habitat and an amenity area for the community for generations to enjoy.

More details of the masterplan are available at 

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