Aran Islands set target to become energy independent by 2022

13 Aug 2012

Fuinneamh Oileáin Árann Comharchumann Teoranta (Aran Islands Energy Cooperative), in partnership with Energy Cooperatives Ireland, plans to turn the Aran Islands into an energy technology development centre to further efforts in achieving energy independence for the islands over the next 10 years.

Access to fuel for residents of the Aran Islands can be restricted and problematic, with the community largely dependent on fossil fuel imports and subjected to import prices and added transport costs.

Recent co-operation between the local community and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland saw the formation of Fuinneamh Oileáin Árann Comharchumann Teoranta earlier this month. Now formally established, the Comharchumann aims to eliminate the community’s reliance on fossil fuels and thus secure the future energy needs of the three Aran Islands.

A centre of energy innovation and research

To do this, alternative and sustainable sources of energy will have to be sought, and so the Aran Islands will become a living energy research environment, inviting researchers and technology developers to trial new innovations in renewable energy on the islands.

The islands will be Ireland’s guinea pig for the testing and operation of new technologies in energy conservation, renewable energy production, smart grids and transport. The area is ideally positioned to be an energy testing ground as its modern medium-scale local grid has a quantifiable single point of access to the national grid, enabling researchers to trial technologies in a way that is controllable and measurable.

Social and economic benefits

In the process of becoming a centre for research and development of renewable and sustainable energy, revenues and employment on the islands may also improve. The Comharchumann is focused on establishing suitable partnerships for the islands that will lead to local employment and maximise these social benefits.

Kingspan, Senator Windows, Firebird Boilers and RedT energy storage have already expressed an interest and are currently finalising partnerships and programmes of work.

A global example

The work done on the Aran Islands will not only be relevant in Ireland but across the globe, establishing Ireland as an internationally preferred location for energy innovation and research and these islands as an example of best practice in this area.

Education and training in sustainable living will be provided both to residents and non-residents in order to ensure the entire community and beyond can understand how and why the islands are aiming for energy independence. The target date for this achievement has been set at 2020.

Image of Inisheer via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.