Inis Mor Island has had an energy committee for many years and residents are very interested in making the island a more sustainable place to live in and getting rid of oil, gas and coal as well reducing energy consumption. One of the reasons historically for this interest is that islanders pay about 20% extra for oil and gas and coal than people do on the mainland of Ireland because of the extra cost of carriage over sea . Islanders don’t get the bargains that you can sometimes find on the mainland. As there is no competition you have to buy it whatever price it is at so it is 20% higher than on the mainland.
Energy is very expensive and yet when you see around there strong wind blowing, lots of sunshine, a tremendous energy from the power of the sea. We wonder why we cant harness this energy. So at this point of time we now have our community owned energy co-operative representing all three islands and everybody on the three islands to promote this whole idea. We have become very ambitious because not alone do we want to replace oil, coal, and gas with our own renewable energy generated on the island, we want to own the sources of that energy generation, own our own wind turbines, our solar pv panels. We wish to be able to sell this not only to ourselves but to outside sources.
The Aran Islands wants to make itself an example of a community can get its act together in terms of renewable energy. Not just to be self sufficient but also to create an industry and employment. If the Aran Islands can generate our own electricity, get it cheaply and offer it cheaply, then it may attract industries to the Island and generate jobs. This is already being done with the sea salt distillery and an alcohol distillery which use a lot of energy. All the energy they will use will be renewable energy generated on the Aran Islands which will be sold to them. It will also create jobs for people on the islands. Through all of this the hope is that the local homes will become more comfortable and energy become more affordable. Also to create a better employment system for island community which will encourage people to stay here and rear their children and families and to attract tourists to see what we are doing. There are lots of spinoffs from these efforts.
One of the main things we are doing at the moment is that we are insulating peoples homes. In 2014 a quarter of the homes will be completed , bringing them up to a much higher level of insulation than what they would had prior to now. This includes attic, wall insulation, windows and doors, new heating systems, heat pumps instead of oil stoves, solar panels (both water and pv). This gradually removes the dependance on carbon based fuels.
If you are interested, get involved. Get in touch with us.