Did you know that the Aran Islands are planning to augment their clean-green image in the next ten years by getting rid of the use of fossil fuels altogether from the islands. At the moment, it is not possible to buy petrol legally on Inis Mor. This is because the health and safety regulations and the insurance costs associated with its transport and storage make it uneconomical for anyone to import it legally. However, instead of trying to get it back, we are going the opposite direction and planning to get rid of diesel and kerosene as well!
Already on the islands, you will see small orange electric cars and many installations of solar panels on residential homes. What you won’t see is the great improvements being made to the insulation of homes and community buildings to a very high level. There are also many homes now that are using heat pumps to heat their homes. Some heat pumps are geothermal, others take heat from the air.
Over the course of this summer (2013), you should see the wind turbines on Inis Meain beginning to turn again. They have been idle for a number of years while the company that ran them was going through liquidation. But now the plan is that they will become the property of a community owned energy cooperative. This cooperative is called Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta and is open to all residents to join. Find it on Facebook.
We will also be introducing PhotoVoltaic panels to the islands this year. It will be interesting to see how PhotoVoltaic works on the islands, as we get a lot more light here than on the mainland. Further down the road, we hope to draw energy from the sea around us. The technology for this is not ready to deploy yet, but we expect it in a few years.
In the medium term, our plan is to set up our own Electricity Retail Company which will allow us to buy electricity from our own sources and sell it back to ourselves as consumers. This will do a number of things. Firstly, it will give us cheaper and more sustainable electricity. Secondly, it will allow us to attract to the islands energy dependent small industry, thus creating employment and another branch to our economy.
The Aran Islands may indeed offer ‘a step back in time’, but we are also offering a step forward. We are good at dancing here!!!
Dara Ó Maoildhia
Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta
Aran Islands Renewable Energy Limited
Cill Rónáín PO,