MacManus calls for better community energy supports following visit to Claremorris Energy Cooperative
“Community-owned renewable energy projects bring a wide range of benefits and should be prioritised and supported in the energy transition”, said Chris MacManus, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest. MacManus was speaking after a visit to Claremorris and Western District Energy Coop, where founder JP Prendergast explained the ambition of this local energy cooperative, and the challenges they face.
“Claremorris Energy Coop is a great example of the ambition and ideas that community initiatives can bring to the renewable energy scene,” said MacManus. “The Coop currently has two solar panel sites in development, as well as plans for biomethane production linked to a district heating network. The Coop also encourages local farmers to expand into biomethane production using independent cooperative structures, using their agricultural waste in a sustainable way, rather than leaving the field to multinational companies operating industrial-size plants which are often unsustainable.”
“But it is clear that these innovative energy communities need support to be able to put their plans into action. Credit unions are an interesting source of financial backing for local energy cooperatives. But finance needs to come from government as well. Sinn Féin recently launched its new policy document, ‘Empowering communities in climate action’, detailing additional supports that my party in government would provide to renewable energy communities. The proposals include a target for 10% of Ireland’s renewable energy capacity to be community-owned by 2030, doubling annual funding to renewable energy communities to €2 million in order to reach this goal.”
“EU funding can also play a big role,” said MacManus. “The recently agreed RePower EU programme allocates almost €300 billion in loans and grants for renewable energy projects. But the government will need to get its act together to avail of this money. It can be accessed under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, but Ireland is yet to draw down any money from this facility, two whole years after it was created. The government should swiftly add a RePowerEU chapter to Ireland’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, and then actually draw down the monies so that EU financing can get to community energy groups on the ground.” ENDS
Below: Chris MacManus, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest pictured with Western District Energy Co-op founder JP Prendergast