EU Energy Commission To Make First Irish Visit

Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy to visit
Tipperary and Clare

The European Union’s Committee of the Regions (CoR) will make its first
ever visit to Ireland later this month, it was announced today.

Organised by the Mid West Regional Authority (MWRA) and LIT Tipperary, the
fact-finding mission by members of the Commission for Environment, Climate
Change and Energy will feature a number of site visits throughout counties
Clare and Tipperary on Tuesday, 24 April.

The travelling delegation will visit the offices of North Tipperary County
Council before attending a briefing on the LIT Tipperary managed and
EU-funded Sustainable Energy for the Rural Village Environment (SERVE) project
http://servecommunity.ie/, which aims to develop a sustainable region in
North Tipperary. Commission members also will visit Ireland’s first Eco
Village in Cloughjordan.

The delegation of politicians from around the EU will later visit Feakle in
County Clare for a tour of the Clare Wood Chip fuel producing facility,
part of the County Clare Wood Energy Project (CCWEP). The group will
conclude their Irish visit by meeting with officials from Clare County
Council to view the Local Authority’s biomass boiler at Aras Contae an
Chláir in Ennis.

Liam Conneally, Director of the Mid West Regional Authority* said the
Commission’s decision to visit the Mid West is testament to the Region’s
reputation for excellence and expertise in the area of energy efficiency.

The Mid West has a lengthy track record in delivering large-scale
sustainable energy projects such as the Ardnacrusha Hydroelectric Power
Station, the Cloughjordan Eco Village and the coal-fired power station at
Moneypoint. The MWRA also launched Ireland’s first Regional Climate Change
Strategy in 2008.

According to Mr. Conneally: “We work closely with regional development
agencies throughout the Mid West to help make the Region become energy
independent. Renewables development is particularly important for Ireland,
which is nearly 90 per cent dependent on fossil fuels for its energy
requirements. This Region has made considerable progress in this area in
recent years as evidenced by the SERVE project, the increase in wind farm
developments, moves toward tidal power, and the harnessing of biomass for
the generation of electricity.

“The continued development of the Mid West as a region of excellence and
expertise in the energy area will bring further opportunities for
communities, entrepreneurs and third level graduates. Compared to other
regions in Europe, the Mid West is well placed to exploit substantial
renewable energy resources such as wind, wave, wood and energy crops,” he
added.

Seamus Hoyne, manager of the SERVE Project,* said the visit by the Commission
for Environment, Climate Change and Energy represented an ideal opportunity
for key players within the Mid West Region to showcase completed energy
projects along with other planned initiatives.

Mr. Hoyne explained: “With the support of the EU and through the
collaborative efforts of the Mid West’s development agencies, the Region
has significant potential to become the renewable energy-generating centre
of Ireland, once it harnesses all its natural resources.  In the long term,
this would generate sustainable employment, generate increased incomes for
landowners and farmers and significant environmental benefits, as well as
reduced energy costs for consumers.”

Ciaran Lynch, Development Manager, LIT Tipperary* expressed LIT
Tipperary’s happiness at being involved in the visit and explained that the
study visit will concentrate on two unique projects in rural parts of
Ireland.

“LIT Tipperary is particularly happy to be involved in the organisation of
this visit. The Institute has been involved in renewable energy development
for many years through itds taught courses and the many projects in which
it has been involved.

The first aspect of the visit will focus on the SERVE project, which has
already seen 400 buildings receive significant energy upgrades and the
development of a eco-village that is 100% supplied by renewable heating
system and has the largest solar array (506m2) in Ireland. LIT Tipperary
has been the manager of this major project which has been implemented with
many partners including North Tipperary County Council, SPIL and the
Tipperary Energy Agency”

“The second focus  will be on local wood fuel supply systems and approaches
to setting up enterprises and companies within regions which can meet local
demand.  The Clare Wood Energy Project is an integrated project involving
Local Development Companies, Local Authorities, Forestry and Agricultural
Advisors and Private Individuals. It has resulted in significant investment
in biomass heating systems and also the development of a number of local
wood fuel supply companies. The model of development is now being rolled
out to other regions in Ireland and can be replicated across the EU,”
concluded Mr. Lynch.

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) represents local and regional government
in the EU policy formation and decision-making processes. Members of the
Committee of the Regions and its subcommittees carry out study visits in
order to acquaint themselves with real-life projects which demonstrate the
implementation of EU policy and programmes, in order to inform their future
deliberations and the advice they give to the Parliament and other EU
institutions.

At the suggestion of the European Federation of Agencies and Regions for
Energy and Environment (FEDARENE), with which the Mid-West Region has
strong associations through LIT Tipperary and the Tipperary Energy Agency,,
it was proposed that a delegation of the Committee of the Regions would be
invited to come to the area.

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