July 14, 2023
MacManus calls for adequate infrastructure to support Sustainable Energy Communities in Midlands Northwest

MacManus calls for adequate infrastructure to support Sustainable Energy Communities in Midlands Northwest
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has highlighted the need for adequate infrastructure and finance to support Sustainable Energy Communities. The Midlands Northwest MEP was speaking after a meeting with representatives from Mullingar Sustainable Energy Community, who he met alongside Julie McCourt, Sinn Féin’s Area Representative for Mullingar. 

“Community-owned sustainable energy projects bring a wide range of benefits to their local areas and to the energy transition,” said MacManus, “but they are facing many barriers. In the Midlands North-West the electricity grid is overburdened and cannot provide grid access to many excellent projects, like the solar farm planned by Mullingar Sustainable Energy Community.”

“These infrastructure gaps can be filled if investment is managed in a fair way.  As it stands, Eirgrid’s plans for 2030 focus the most substantial new grid infrastructure in the south and east of the country. At the same time, sustainable energy communities in the Midlands Northwest are being asked to pay for their own grid connection. Mullingar Sustainable Energy Community are facing potential costs of €2 million for their grid connection. This is a staggering sum for a community-owned project and would prevent most if not all local renewable energy projects from getting off the ground. We need the government, state agencies and electricity grid operators to work together to ensure adequate grid expansion across the state.”

“In addition to infrastructural barriers, the engineering costs facing Sustainable Energy Communities are substantial. In Sinn Féin’s policy document, ‘Empowering communities in climate action’, we propose to double funding for sustainable energy communities to €2 million per year, so that at least 10% of Ireland’s renewable energy capacity will be community-owned by 2030. The cost of this upfront investment will bring greater returns over time.”

MacManus concluded, “I would like to thank Mullingar SEC for presenting their project to me, as well as outlining the considerable barriers they face. Sustainable energy communities are an invaluable resource as they improve community acceptance of the infrastructure needed for renewables as well as generating local green energy. They also provide a host of other services like advice on retrofitting and energy saving. They can play a crucial role in a more democratised energy transition, and must be supported to do so.”

See attached photo of L-R: Gerard Keena (Mullingar SEC), Chris MacManus MEP, Isabella Donnelly (Mullingar SEC) and Julie McCourt (Sinn Féin Area Rep)

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