The Irish Solar Market | A Reflection & Projection

The Solar Landscape In Ireland | Reflection and Projection

Now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the Irish solar market. 2020 was a year of unimaginable uncertainties for so many people here in Ireland and who knew that we would be entering 2021 with some of the same. We now have a vaccine and that brings us back towards normality and again, certainty.

What makes now a good time to take stock? Well, here at Activ8 Solar Energies, we have a big year ahead, we're getting ready to celebrate 15 years in the solar business as well as opening a state-of-the-art headquarters. When we speak of certainty inside the four walls of Ireland's solar experts, we really own can be certain of one thing; change!

We started off with flat-plate solar panel collectors before the famous financial crisis of 2008 threw Ireland into recession and we learned a lot with that experience. We know that our original product offering has changed from solar panels to heat hot water only (flat-plate, or "Solar Thermal") to solar panels that create electricity (Solar PV). The recession came and went (with the infamous IMF) and the country slowly got back on its feet. More recently, we even saw the rise and fall of Donald Trump and you might think, what has that got to do with solar? Well, we wrote about this in 2016 and the possible disaster this might have for climate change efforts around the world, and we were unfortunately proven correct.

What has come before us is history and what will happen in the future is unknown, except for the knowledge that things will change and we here in Activ8 Solar Energies will adapt and evolve. We recently celebrated ISO certification in new areas, championing our commitment to process improvement internally, ultimately helping our customers. The reassurance longevity and experience brings cannot be underestimated. Customers of ours from 2007, 14 years ago, know that we're the same company that installed their solar panels in 2007 and although we've changed and grown over the years (for the better), we're still the same Activ8 Solar Energies.

Through our own data analysis, we have come to see the solar market here in Ireland become a lot more crowded. For instance, in the summer of 2018, Activ8 was competing with 6 similar businesses on Google Ads, according to the Auction Insights Report. December 2020 shows 20 competitors for the same market. This isn't a bad thing as this increased level of competition means that supply side solar costs are sustainable and more importantly, that standards are set and maintained by national bodies as a result. Heck, our CEO Ciaran Marron was on the NSAI committee to help formulate these standards given our longstanding position in the Irish solar market. It helps that our motto internally has always been "We don't follow standards, we set them" and to remain as Ireland's Solar Experts, we must always strive for the highest possible standards.

However, the sudden growth in 2018 may coincide with the introduction of the SEAI Solar PV grant at the very end of July 2018. As mentioned, it's great for the proliferation of solar and renewable energy throughout Ireland to have so many suppliers in the market going forward and here's hoping that as an industry, standards across the board are kept to a sustained, high level through the SEAI and other bodies.

We're delighted to have been offering solar energy and solar panels for 14 years and look forward to delivering our exceptional level of service for many more years to come. Keep an eye on our pages for more information on our improved Customer Resource Centre as well as our growing Activ8 Solar Academy.

Fingers crossed that 2021 delivers what we're all hoping for, a resumption to what we all call normal.


Social Club Christmas Draw | Shop Local Carrickmacross

Shop Local Carrickmacross | Our Social Club Christmas Draw 2020

With the year that we've had and the inability for us to have our usual social club outings, we used our social club fund for a Christmas Draw bonanza. And more importantly, we wanted to support as many local businesses as possible. As the scramble comes for last-minute Christmas presents please try and support these local businesses if you can.

They sponsor our local clubs and community events, they hire local staff and support so much more than we think.

A massive congrats to our Social Club team who managed to spread the fund across so many businesses, organise a fantastic draw for our staff all whilst pumping €5,700 into our local community!

Here is a list of the businesses:

Cloughvalley Stores (Quinn's voucher)
Valley Lodge Voucher
Shirley Arms Voucher
Super Valu Voucher
Sinead's Place Gifts & Hardware Voucher
Taveys Menswear Voucher
Steeles Menswear Voucher
Beauty Lane by Paulina Voucher
The Ivy Voucher
Fade Barber Shop Voucher
Chamber of Commerce Voucher (Birdy's newsagent)
O'Roukes Fuel Voucher
Cassidy's Fuel Station Ardee Road
Circle K (Cassidy's Fuel Station Dundalk Road)
Matildas Bakery
Gifts and Things Voucher
Courthouse Voucher
Maguires Pharmacy Ladies Hamper
Hands Shoe Shop Voucher
Howells Voucher
T&L Paints Voucher
Dress Up Voucher
Uptown Girl Voucher
TW Menswear Voucher
Marron Electrical Voucher
All care Pharmacy Hamper (Men's)
Connollys Pharmacy Hamper (Ladies)
McAllisters Voucher
Unique Hair Design Voucher
Lidl Voucher
Aldi Voucher
Cabra Castle Voucher
Asus Chromebook | Marron Electrical
EOS 4000 D Canon Camera | Marron Electrical
Samsung 50" Smart TV | Marron Electrical
Samsung Galaxy Smart Watch | Marron Electrical
Eakins Pharmacy Hamper (Men's)
The Hair Loft (Hairdressers)
Ella Rose Voucher
Nolans Butchers Voucher

Activ8 Achieves ISO 14001:2015 & ISO 45001:2015 Certification | Adding To Our ISO 9001 Success!

Having initially gained certification of registration Quality Management Systems to ISO 9001:2008 in February 2016 (Crazy to think we covered this in a blog post almost 4 years ago - click to read) and being the first solar company to introduce standards in the market, Activ8 Solar Energies successfully completed the transition to ISO 9001:2015 in December of the same year. In the following years, Activ8 solely focued on the continual improvement of both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the Quality Management System. In early 2020, we started the process of building a new integrated management system, combining all three standards with one set of policies and procedures and providing us with the ability to bring all of our objectives into a unified system. In early November we completed our initial audit of the integrated system with NSAI (National Standards Association of Ireland), and we are absolutely delighted to announce that we have successfully achieved certification in all three international standards.

We are delighted to announce that having been the first solar company in Ireland to achieve certification ISO 9001 Quality Management standards in the solar market, we now have achieved certification in ISO 14001 (Environmental) and ISO 45001 (Occupational H&S). This is on top of record scores in Quality, Environmental and H&S in our annual Achilles Supply Line audit in 2020 also. This a huge achievement for our team in the most challenging year of them all! CEO Ciaran Marron would like to extend his thanks to all of the hard-working staff for their dedication and commitment to the management system. Although this type of certification is based around processes and policies, it is the attitude and dedication in delivering a high-quality service for our customers that really allows us to accomplish such achievements.


Raymond Clarke, QEHS Manager with our three NSAI ISO Certificates & our Achilles Supply Line Audit Certificate 

Raymond Clarke, QEHS Manager  - “It’s a huge milestone for Activ8 and it is down to the sheer hard work and dedication of all the staff and management. It has been a massive year with achieving record scores with our Achilles external audit and now having three international standard certifications. In the most challenging year of them all, everbody has embraced change within the company, allowing us to focus on a safer workplace, happy customers and a greener environment”.


SEAI Energy Awards 2020 | Partnership Success

SEAI Awards With A Twist In 2020

The SEAI Awards were announced live on YouTube last week, a true reflection of the times, given the usual standing the award ceremony holds for those of us in the renewable energy industry. It has become a very important date in the calendar for many, as we all work hard towards improving standards and increasing the number of projects focused on energy efficiency and sustainability here in Ireland. With the latest lockdown restrictions, there were many of us waiting on the announcements from locations all over Ireland, be it from our home or office!

With the announcements came cause for celebration for us here in Activ8 Solar Energies as we were involved with four finalists, three of them ultimately winning.

The Winners

Firstly, Terra Spirits & Liqueurs, won the Small and Medium Business – Exemplary Energy Performance category. Having installed solar PV in 2018 for Terra, Shaun McKevitt was keen to build on this effort and completed that with a further expansion of their on-roof solar, amongst other measures, to 340kWp and are every bit deserving for their 2020 SEAI Energy Award.

Our partners, SSE Airtricity were also successful with SSE Airtricity Energy Services winning the Best Energy in Buildings category. A fantastic success by the team who we’re lucky to work with on a number of projects.

In a somewhat different category that makes this a wonderful project to be involved with, Dunleer Sustainable Energy Community won the Inspirational Energy Community Award. These guys are amazing in the passion they show as a community-based energy saving scheme in Co. Louth. Having worked with Elizabeth and Fergus McCann over the past 5 years, installing solar PV on a number of projects including the Birches centre, a project we like to highlight in particular as it helps some of the most vulnerable in our society and only goes to showcase the amazing work Dunleer SEC are getting across the line.

Finally, the efforts of Depuy Synthes – Johnson & Johnson saw them as finalists in the Energy Team/ Manager of the Year award, where they narrowly missed out. Having installed a 210kWp Solar PV system in the scenic location of Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork for Depuy Synthes in 2020, they are a true industry leader when it comes to the efforts they make in energy management and sustainability and it was a pleasure to work with a global leader on a solar project such as this one.

As we look forward to 2021 and the many wonderful projects already in the pipeline, we’re always striving to deliver the best in class project management and we want to work with the innovative companies and communities we have here in Ireland. If you have a project in mind, please reach out to either of our Project Manager, Martin Mulholland or our Commercial Manager, Gary Connolly.

martin.mulholland@activ8energies.com
gary.connolly@activ8energies.com

Contact Our Commercial Team



    Activ8 Presenting On FarmGen | Solar Ireland 2020 Conference

    The ISEA Conference 2020 took place on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th of this week. The event of course had to be held virtually but with great event management in place, it was a resounding success. With that said, we were delighted to presenting at the event for a fourth year running.

    With a wide range of solar projects ongoing in Activ8 Solar Energies, it’s great that we were able to switch topics. Having most recently presented on the topic of domestic solar, we were able to bring our learnings forward on the FarmGen project. An initiative we’ve collaborated on with Glanbia Ireland and SSE Airtricity to great effect. As Ireland’s solar experts, we were in a great position to help Glanbia Ireland bring a renewable offering to life for their agricultural customers. On top of this, the third arm of the partnership, SSE Airtricity offering preferential electricity rates, with the added bonus of said supply being 100% green energy*.

     

    With installations in 2019 and further installations this year, we have learned a number of things on the FarmGen initiative as well as thankfully having numerous expectations confirmed in reality. Our Commercial Manager, Gary Connolly, presented on these findings on the second day of the ISEA Solar Conference 2020 from the comfort of our head office.

    Firstly, he discussed the predictable, high usage periods of a dairy farm based around milking times. The morning milking is followed by a low midday demand on energy giving us an inverse usage curve versus the standard solar production curve. We have worked with farmers and the sizing of their systems accordingly. It is great that we can depend on the smart monitoring systems installed on-site to give us this feedback at a circuit level. By using this midday energy to heat the hot water cylinder on-site and have it ready for the evening milking, it maximises the use and efficiency of the system.

     

    Sizing the System

    We have encountered farmers throughout this initiative who are keen to oversize their system without proper understanding of the usage curve against standard solar production patterns.

     

    Rather than sizing the system for peak usage, there is a better optimal level towards which a system should be specified. Just as we do for all of our domestic and commercial solar PV clients, we always qualify and research their usage to better understand their need. This allows us to consistently size the system appropriately.

    As you can see in the graph above, the optimal sized system brings more efficiency and ultimately, better value for the farmer.

     

    The Future

    Gary then discussed some minor issues with the funding side and recommendations we would make to help improve the scheme, from a solar perspective in particular.

    If you wish to learn more about FarmGen, or have a project in mind that Solar PV may suit, then just get in touch via the contact form below.

      Name (required)

      Email (required)

      Your Phone No. (required)

      Your Location

      Type of Farm?
      DairyBeefPoultryOther

      Are you a Glanbia Milk Supplier?
      YesNo

      Message (Optional)


      I consent to giving Activ8 Solar Energies the above data as an expression of interest in the FarmGen initiative. Please note, that your data will be held in line with our Privacy Policy, which can be found at the link below.

      I consent to my data being shared with Glanbia Ireland in accordance with their privacy policy, which can be found by clicking the link below.

      Activ8 Solar Energies Privacy Policy
      Glanbia Ireland Privacy Policy

      *100% green energy based on Fuel Mix Disclosure and Co2 Emissions for 2019 published by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, September 2020. For more information visit sseairtricity.com/greenenergy


      Activ8 Play Installation Role in SVP Energy Upgrade Scheme In Limerick

      St Patricks Court Limerick housing scheme receives energy upgrade through retrofit project 

      As the solar partner of SSE Airtricity, we were only delighted to be involved in such a wonderful scheme that will truly make a difference. As installers on the project alongside SSE Airtricity Energy Services, the Society of St. Vincent De Paul and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), this project focused on keeping homes warm through the winter of 2019 and beyond with the completion of this energy project in Limerick city. 

      In Garryowen, the residents of St Patricks Court will see energy consumption being reduced by almost 50% as part of this retrofit project.  

      There were 13 properties making up the project, all of which were built over 50 years ago and therefore had poor BER ratings, with solid concrete walls and single glazing windows. The majority of the tenants have come from the nearby SVP emergency homeless hostel accommodation and the properties had no energy upgrades since they were constructed. Following the final installation of the solar PV panels, the homes BER uplift came from a G right up to A3, savings thousands of euro in annual energy costs and making the homes much healthier and cosier to live in. 

      The project was co-founded by SEAI and SVP and delivered by SSE Airtricity Energy Services and Activ8 Solar Energies with upgrades on home heating, solar PV installation and external insulation. Part of the funding came through the SEAI and their Community Scheme with support from the government, which aims to improve energy efficiency in Irish communities. 

      Reflecting on 2019, this scheme has allowed us, alongside our partner, SSE Airtricity, to team up with local authorities, approved housing bodies and community groups to deliver energy improvements to domestic and fuel poor homes around Ireland. 

      Stuart Hobbs, Head of SSE Airtricity Energy Services, said, “We’re proud to partner with St. Vincent de Paul and the SEAI, and to help some of Limerick’s most vulnerable residents feel warmer and safer in their homes this winter. This project will reduce the resident’s energy costs while also helping cut carbon emissions from their homes. 

      At SSE Airtricity we know the value of helping Irish homes and businesses go green and how that can have a positive impact on Ireland’s 2030 climate goals,” Hobbs added. 

      John Randles, Head of Delivery in SEAI said, “This year, SEAI is supporting 57 projects under our communities’ scheme with over €25 million in government funding. We are delighted to see projects like the collaboration between SSE Airtricity, St. Vincent de Paul and St Patricks Court Limerick at completion.” 

       


      Activ8 Solar Energies Awarded ‘Best Solar Energy Solutions Provider 2020'

      Activ8 Solar Energies awarded ‘Best Solar Energy Solutions Provider' in the 3rd annual Irish Enterprise Awards

      We are absolutely delighted to announce that we have received this award on behalf of all our hard working staff

      It would be remiss of me to receive this award without a tone of caution in writing to our customers and followers as we celebrate this accolade. This award is down to the hard work and consistency of our staff over many, many years. This will be the 14th year of existence for what is Activ8 Solar Energies and while this award is directly attributable to our current staff, their efforts have been built upon the foundations of many previous staff members and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff, both current and past.

       

      However, with the recent spread of COVID-19, these are uncertain times for businesses, but also for our families. We should all continue to follow expert advice from the HSE and informed government sources, as we are doing here in Activ8 Solar Energies.

       

      It is with this recent challenge and also this particular award, that we all look back on the growth of Activ8 Solar Energies over a fantastic 14 years and realise that as Irelands largest solar installer and with the backing of our partners SSE Airtricity that we are in a position to continue to help our customers as much as we possibly can and that we will continue to drive forward the renewable energy efforts in this wonderful country of ours.

       

      With that said, I want to thank all of our wonderful staff and wish health upon their families in the near future and the hope that our normal routines will seem to resume just as quickly as they have left us.

       

      Kind regards,

      Ciaran Marron
      CEO
      Activ8 Solar Energies


      Now ISO 9001:2015 Accredited!

      We were truly delighted to announce that we had officially secured ISO 9001:2008 accreditation through the National Standards Authority of Ireland back at the beginning of 2016. We showed through customer testimonials what this quality control meant for our customers. Well, we didn't rest on our laurels.

      We went after the ISO 9001:2015 accreditation by going further with our ISO 9001 implementation measures.

      ISO 9001 is awarded to companies for exceptional Quality Management Systems, allowing us to further strengthen our reputation within the Irish solar industry for our dedication to quality of service. This is backed up by our stringent process management that guarantees our consistent quality of service with each and every customer, install and project that we undertake.

      Acquiring this more up-to-date accreditation was extremely important for us as a company, making sure that we stayed as the only dedicated solar installers in Ireland to receive the ISO mark of quality. After a lengthy process in conjunction with the National Standards Authority of Ireland 3 years ago, an important process for everyone here, it was important for us to strengthen that reputation going forward.

      It gives our current customers further peace of mind as to the pedigree of their install, the stability of our guarantees and the standards to which our customer service will deliver if they ever need us. It should also go a long way towards helping any prospective customers make up their mind as to with whom they wish to deal with. We hope this helps establish Activ8 Solar Energies as the industry leader in quality. Quality of survey, design, fit, install and overall service.

      With many companies trying to enter the industry on the back of last years SEAI solar PV grant, we hope that people acknowledge the importance of quality and the strict adherence to quality across the many processes here in Activ8 Solar Energies.

      For our CEO Ciaran Marron, it echoes the slogan of the company;

      "We do not follow standards, we set them!"


      A Personal Thank You

      A Personal Thank You

      The last few days have been very active on the commercial front for myself and my family with the announcement that SSE Airtricity has invested in a 40% stake of Activ8 Solar Energies. As a result, I didn’t quite have the chance to sit down and actually take in the momentous occasion. However, the calls and messages I have received from friends and family far and wide have been truly heartwarming.

      I firstly want to take this opportunity to acknowledge that a lot of the people doing so have played important roles in helping Activ8 become what it is today. Those closest to me are acutely aware of the journey endured in getting to this point, but sometimes overlook the importance of their contribution through what they’ve said and what they’ve done in helping make Activ8 the company it is today.

      With that, Orla and I want to personally thank all of our family and friends from the bottom of our hearts for everything. Equally, I want to thank our current staff for continuing to do their best to help Activ8 grow on a daily and monthly basis in what is a very exciting 2018. I also want to thank all of those who checked in and out of Activ8 HQ in the past, for however long, for their hard work and buying into the Activ8 vision over the years.

      I am very excited for what 2018 holds for Activ8 Solar Energies and with the support of SSE Airtricity, the sky sun is the limit.

       

       

       

      Ciaran Marron
      CEO


      SSE Airtricity Invest in 40% Stake of Activ8 Solar Energies

      SSE Airtricity has entered into an agreement to acquire 40 per cent of Activ8 Solar Energies.

       

      Under the terms of the agreement SSE Airtricity will have an option to acquire an additional 10 per cent shareholding in Activ8 Solar Energies after two years. The existing Activ8 management team will lead this business, which will continue to trade as Activ8 Solar Energies. Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, nothing will change in the running of the company on a day-to-day business, except with the aim of growing the business and creating even more local employment.

       

      The acquisition is subject to approval by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, and SSE Airtricity and Activ8 Solar Energies expectto complete the process in the coming months.

       

      In 2016 Activ8 Solar Energies was selected by SSE Airtricity Energy Services as a preferred partner in the delivery of SEAI-supported domestic and community-based retrofit schemes. Commercially, Activ8 partnered with SSE Airtricity in 2017 to install a 1,400-panel rooftop array covering more than 2,300m2 and generating 420 kilowatt peak (kWp) of solar energy at The SSE Arena, Belfast.

      SSE Arena Solar PV Installation
      1,448 solar PV Suntech panels on the SSE Arena in Belfast

       

      Stephen Gallagher, SSE Airtricity’s Director of Business Energy, said:

      “We’re delighted to announce this acquisition by SSE Airtricity of 40 per cent of Activ8 Solar Energies which marks yet another significant step forward in the development of our growing commercial and domestic energy services offering. Activ8 is one of the leading Rooftop Solar companies in Ireland, and since 2016 our two companies have worked in partnership to deliver large-scale deep retrofit projects, whether under the Better Energy Communities programme or with innovative energy-generating installations such as our roof-mounted solar PV array at The SSE Arena, Belfast.

       

      “Activ8 has a very strong team which is the driving force behind the company’s success. Now, subject to approval by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Activ8 and SSE Airtricity are poised to bring our combined strengths and unique offerings to a much-wider domestic and commercial customer base, including SSE Airtricity’s 750,000 energy supply customers across the island.”

       

      Ciaran Marron, Chief Executive of Activ8 Solar Energies, said:

      “The acquisition being announced today further cements Activ8’s position as one of the leading providers of Rooftop Solar solutions in Ireland. Since 2007, we have successfully grown our electrical contracting business to become one of Ireland’s top installers of solar energy systems. We are proud of our exceptional knowledge and experience in the rooftop solar industry, and particularly of the contribution that our dedicated and highly-skilled workforce of 40 employees have made towards our growth to-date.

       

      “This major investment by SSE Airtricity into our business represents an exciting step-forward for the growth of our business and service offering at Activ8, and we look forward to working together with SSE Airtricity as we develop new customer offerings to meet our shared growth ambitions for this rapidly-developing technology sector.”