Powering our Future Energy Needs in Westmeath

On 29th May last, Westmeath Community Development held a Renewable Energy Conference in Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar, the first of its kind in the county. Over 80 people attended the event, demonstrating an increasing awareness and understanding of renewables as a critical and growing component of Ireland’s energy supply.  

The conference brought together the farming community, community groups and business owners to discuss how the contribution from renewable energy can be maximised and implemented effectively to address energy security needs as well as our commitment in reducing Ireland's carbon emissions.

The conference was opened by Frank Murtagh, CEO Westmeath Community Development and Dermot Leavy, Chairman of Westmeath Community Development provided the welcome address to the audience on the day.

Environmentalist, Architect and TV personality Duncan Stewart was the key note speaker at the event. Duncan gave a passionate speech about Climate Change and how we can meet our future energy needs in Ireland, noting that greenhouse emissions from Irish homes are double the European average.

Pictured at the Renewable Energy Conference (L-R): Duncan Stewart, Frank Murtagh, Bernie Leavy, Brian Collentine, Darina Coughlan, Dermot Leavy, Noel Gavigan & Pat Smith.

Noel Gavigan of the Irish Bioenergy Association provided the audience with some excellent examples of how Biogas and Biomass are being currently used to produce energy in both Ireland and across Europe.

Pat Smyth, Chairman at Micro Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) provided the audience with an overview of Solar PV and Micro Energy. Pat also outlined a number of best practice Solar PV examples that have been fitted on various types of buildings including farm sheds.

Gillian Gannon from SEAI gave an overview about Sustainable Energy Communities in Co. Westmeath and the grants available under the SEAI to improve energy efficiencies in homes, community buildings and businesses.

Brian Collentine, a director in ORS briefed the audience about Energy Efficiency & Renewables. He outlined a number of different case studies that upgraded to using sustainable energy systems and the grants obtained to purchase these systems.

Bernie Leavy from Westmeath Community Development gave an overview on the LEADER programme and the focus on renewable energy as part of the Westmeath Local Development Strategy 2014-2020. The LEADER programme can provide funding for feasibility studies for the production and use of renewable energy technologies, capital projects arising from such projects and funding towards installation of renewable technologies.

Closing the event, Westmeath Community Development’s CEO, Frank Murtagh commented,

‘Westmeath Community Development is proud to be playing its part in driving the agenda on renewable energy and Climate Action in the county. Local Partnership companies will have an important role to play in supporting local communities to be active participants in renewable energy supply projects’.

Westmeath Community Development will be hosting a number of workshops in July for individuals and groups interested in developing renewable energy projects. For further information or to register your interest in the workshops please contact Darina Coughlan on 044 9348571 or email: dcoughlan@westcd.ie

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