CAPE Clear Island has been selected to take part in a major EU clean energy project.
After a six-week application process, during the months of December and January, Cape Clear emerged as one of 26 – out of a total of 2,200 EU inhabited islands – to secure a coveted place in the project.
Mairtín Ó Méalóid, manager of Comharchumann Chléire Teoranta, the island’s co-operative, said the island will develop and publish its clean energy strategy by the summer of 2020.
Mr Ó Méalóid explained that the EU project leaders were looking to see the level of commitment from the community to the project, and they were also looking for any history of renewable energy activity on the island.
The first integrated wind energy system in Ireland was on Cape Clear Island, and the project – which ran from 1987 to 1992 – was supported by the German department of Energy. Mr Ó Méalóid explained that the project was, for a time, very successful in that the two 33kw windmills generated electricity for the 50 homes on the island. It was, however, discontinued because there was, at that time, no support for renewables in Ireland.
Cape’s plan will be looking at ways of relaunching its wind energy, as well as wave energy, PV panels, and whatever renewable sources can be applied to making Cape Clear a greener island.
In a separate project, the island co-op is working on plans to introduce the first fully electric bus system on an island.
Mr Ó Méalóid said the EU’s Clean Energy for Islands Secretariat will help in the creation of the island’s policy document and he expressed the hope that the EU Commission would then announce funding streams to allow the island co-operative to implement the plan. The chairman described the project as ‘having the potential to make Cape Clear and its households self-sufficient in terms of energy production’.
‘But,’ he said, ‘that kind of transition doesn’t happen overnight. It is something we will be working towards over the next decade.
‘Long-term, it could have huge significance for the island,’ he added.
‘It would make Cape Clear one of the pioneering green energy islands and we would expect that it would bring a certain amount of eco-tourism too.
‘It also has the potential to make the island more attractive for people to come and live here and it would, undoubtedly, create employment because all of these systems would have to be installed and maintained.
‘But, for now, we will be taking it one step at a time and focus all our efforts on preparing our green agenda in time for 2020.’
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