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 Launch FarmGen In Partnership With Glanbia Ireland & SSE Airtricity

Minister Michael Creed & FarmGen Announcement.
Photo Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography Copyright 2019

Glanbia Ireland announce FarmGen Solar PV solution with SSE Airtricity and Activ8 Solar Energies

  • Initiative officially announced by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed T.D.
  • Smart solar solution will help Glanbia Ireland farmers reduce costs and improve sustainability

 

8th July 2019: Glanbia Ireland has today announced that they are delighted to bring FarmGen, a farm generated renewable energy initiative, to the farming community.

Working in partnership with SSE Airtricity and Activ8 Solar Energies, Glanbia Ireland are launching this renewable solar energy solution to market. FarmGen has combined the collective knowledge, experience and expertise of all parties to bring a turn-key solar powered energy solution to Glanbia Ireland farmers.

This technology will help farmers grow their business sustainably into the future, while improving energy efficiency on farm and reducing bills.

 

Following rooftop installation, FarmGen’s 6Kw Solar PV system will help power energy intensive processes on farm, reducing the costs of milk cooling, vacuum pumps and water heating. Combined these three processes account for around 80% of total milk parlour energy consumption.

 

Activ8 Solar Energies will supply and install state-of-the-art Solar PV panels along with a smart monitoring system on each farm. The system will monitor energy generation and consumption in real-time; helping farmers understand where and when energy is consumed, and therefore assisting them to adapt behaviours that will reduce energy costs and improve sustainability.

 

As part of the solar offering, farms will also have export meters installed that enable them to potentially profit from future incentives to return electricity on to the grid. In advance of this measure, SSE Airtricity will provide an annual export rebate to FarmGen customers, as well as preferential energy rates on their 100% green energy.*

 

Farmers can receive 100% financing for the FarmGen initiative through the existing Glanbia Ireland FundEquip scheme and can also leverage all available grant aids, such as TAMS II (Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes) or SEAI. Activ8 Solar Energies will support all grant funding applications for customers.

 

This solar power solution is open to all farming sectors and sizes, with customised commercial packages available and importantly there are also options available for those who wish to install Solar PV in their homes to harness the power of green energy. Farmers who wish to register their interest for this product can phone 1890 929 828 or visit www.farmgen.ie

Michael Creed, Minister of Agriculture, Food & the Marine said: “This is a perfect fit with the Government’s own climate plan and ambition. It builds on the Department of Agriculture’s own TAMS grant, which is encouraging farmers to invest in renewable energies, particularly solar panels, on their farm. It’s great to see Glanbia Ireland take that scheme and work with it to enable the industry to collaborate for the benefit of Irish farmers.”

 

Jim Bergin, CEO, Glanbia Ireland commented: “In Glanbia Ireland our philosophy is that ‘Goodness Grows Here’ and we are delighted to join with SSE Airtricity and Activ8 Solar Energies to launch our FarmGen programme. Through this economically attractive renewable energy solution, we are empowering our farmers to grow their enterprise and to do this in harmony with the environment, for future generations.”

 

Klair Neenan, Managing Director, SSE Airtricity added: “At SSE Airtricity, we believe this is generation green, and we’re delighted to be supporting this initiative to deliver renewable energy solutions to Glanbia Ireland’s network of farmers. We’ll be offering FarmGen customers an exclusive export rebate, as well as preferential rates for our 100% green energy. It’s great to be working with a forward-thinking organisation like Glanbia Ireland, bringing together our expertise to reduce energy costs and improve sustainability at the same time.”

 

Ciaran Marron, CEO, Activ8 Solar Energies said: “As solar experts, Activ8 Solar Energies aims to take the burden away from the farmer, and offer a full turn-key solution from initial interest and  grant application, right through to installation and commission of a farmer’s solar system.”

 

Key highlights of the Glanbia Ireland FarmGen initiative include:

  • Solar PV: Solar PV panels will enable cost efficiency through reducing energy bills and powering farms through on-site renewable generation.
  • Smart Monitoring: Smart meters will enable farmers to better understand their energy generation and consumption and how they can adapt behaviour to drive further savings.
  • Export Meter: Export meters will future-proof farms for upcoming feed-in tariffs, enabling them to sell excess generation back to the electricity grid.
  • Preferential Rates and 100% Green Energy: FarmGen customers, who switch to SSE Airtricity will be supplied by 100% green energy at exclusive preferential rates, that will further reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Fully Funded Solution: The solutions available to Glanbia Ireland farmers through the FundEquip scheme, make it possible for famers to receive competitively priced finance for this product offering.

 

*100% green energy based on Fuel Mix Disclosure and CO2 Emissions for 2017, published by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), September 2018. For more information visit sseairtricity.com/greenenergy

For more information on FarmGen, please view a video here.

Our Partners On This Project

About Glanbia Ireland

Glanbia Ireland is an ambitious, integrated agri-food and nutrition business, with a diverse portfolio of quality ingredients, leading consumer and agri brands. Glanbia Ireland owns leading consumer and agri brands such as Avonmore, Kilmeaden Cheese, Millac, Premier Milk, Wexford, mymilkman.ie, Glanbiaconnect.com, countrylife.ie and GAIN Animal Nutrition.  It processes a 2.7 billion litre milk pool from 21 counties and exports high quality dairy and agri ingredients as well as branded products to over 70 countries. Glanbia Ireland is a joint venture 60% owned by Glanbia Co-op and 40% owned by Glanbia plc. With annual revenue of €1.8 billion, Glanbia Ireland has 11 processing plants, 53 agri branches and over 2,000 employees.

 

About SSE Airtricity

SSE Airtricity is the second largest energy supplier on the island of Ireland, proudly providing 100% green electricity, natural gas and energy-related services to around 750,000 home and business customers. SSE Airtricity is certified by Business in the Community Ireland to the Business Working Responsibly Mark, the ‘gold standard’ for Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability in Ireland. The company has around 1,000 employees on the island of Ireland and is proud to be a Living Wage employer. In 2018, SSE Airtricity acquired 40 per cent of Activ8 Solar Energies, one of Ireland’s leading suppliers of solar PV systems.

Register your interest in FarmGen here


ISEA Presentation 2017: Seeing Into The Future

 

What a difference a year makes. In solar anyway.

After one of our best summers here in Ireland, you would be forgiven for thinking I may be referring to the change in weather. But no, it wasn't changes in the sky, it was changes on the ground. The SEAI brought in the new solar PV grant for homeowners in July of this year and what a difference it has made. We had been lobbying for such measures over the past number of years and to be fair to the powers that be, they listened. Not only to us, but to research, to science, to economists and more. It makes sense.

We have blogs, discussions, and interviews to show our past desires in this area. But maybe the most important reference we can show you is a presentation I gave at the ISEA conference in 2017. It was aptly titled: "The Challenges of Domestic Solar PV Without an Incentive" - if I was to present this now, it would be titled "The Success of Domestic Solar PV With an Incentive".

Alas, here we are in November 2018 after our MD Ciaran Marron has presented upon the processes and procedures surrounding the grants and installation of these grant-aided solar PV systems. As one the leading solar installers in Ireland for well over a decade, Ciaran had the chance to pass on his knowledge around the processes surrounding solar PV and grant-aided work. Almost 10 years on from helping a customer complete his first SEAI grant application, Ciaran was happy to get this opportunity whilst also worrying about where the 10 years had gone...

Either way now seems an appropriate time to look at the key points detailed in that exact presentation from 12 months ago and compare where we are as a nation and an industry right now.

Early on, we compared the grant-aided structures around solar thermal technology, within which we were the leading installer going off the last recorded SEAI statistics.

Comparing Solar Thermal & PV

It's great now to be able to change much of the solar PV side with the introduction of the solar PV grant by SEAI, growing widespread uptake and slowly but surely, the visual growth of Irish rooftops showing solar PV and with the grant from the SEAI also comes quality control with meticulous work inspections bringing peace of mind to Irish homeowners.

One of our other main points revolved around the idea that a gentle push is all the homeowner and the industry needed.

Gentle Push

Well... We got it.

A gentle push has been provided, not only for the tried and test Solar PV but for the battery storage technology. As a company, we've found this has really taken off. As of November, around 25% of all installs now include battery storage added on with the customer benefitting from the additional €1,000 grant.

 

A year ago, I argued that mass education on system attributes and capabilities can only come from experience within society.

As a company, we have found in late 2018 that customers are far more familiar with what solar PV can do and its benefits to us here in Ireland.

This has come from the proof being in the pudding. Customer recommendations being one. When you pair this with the publicity that initially came alongside the grant alongside continuous publicity from SEAI and news outlets. Public knowledge grows. With knowledge comes acceptance.

 

Finally, as explained in our presentation last year, with incentives comes inspections and quality checks from governing bodies.

We here at Activ8 widely approve more stringent checks on Solar PV works. This helps create standards that must be upheld by quality installers. Ensuring, that which is installed is installed for the long term. That it is safe and does what it says on the tin.

It would be rude to take all the credit for our foresight on the above topics and presentation. A former colleague of mine (Maurice Murphy) wrote a dissertation on this exact topic in 2014, and lays out some wonderful points many of which are borrowed in my presentation. If this topic is of interest to you, I would suggest you read this dissertation in full in the link below. Covering topics from solar economics, the social, environmental and ethical drivers, right down to a funding piece which shows a cost neutral way for the economy to stimulate the growth in this sector.

RENERWABLE ENERGY IN IRELAND - HAS THE GOVERNMENT MISSED A TRICK? - The Solar Photovoltaic Market in the Republic of Ireland: A Case Study

Click the link below:

Dissertation-Final-Draft-Sent


Solar PV Grant For Irish Homes Welcomed

Solar PV Grant With Activ8 Solar Energies & SSE Airtricity

It’s with great pleasure that we welcome the grant announced today by the SEAI. As one of the leading advocates of solar PV in Ireland we have seen many false dawns in previous years. We have sat on many boards discussing the benefits and possible pitfalls of introducing an incentive, as well as speaking at solar events sharing our experience in other markets and countries. Upon Minister Naughten’s announcement earlier this year, the hope was this would not be a false dawn, and as we worked as advisors to the SEAI on the format of the grant, it’s great to see the hard work pay off today.

In brief the grant will work as follows:

Without Battery (Max €1,400)
€700 per kWp up to and capped at 2kWp

With Battery (Max €3,800)
€700 per kWp up to and capped at 4kWp Solar
+
€1000 for battery once sized greater than 2kWhrs

Conditions:

- Buildings built and occupied before 2011
- Post-works BER required
- PV works must be installed after July 31st 2018
- Systems must be grid tied
- Grant is a one-off payment
- 2-year pilot scheme reviewed every 6 months

This theme is all about self-consumption and practicality. Regarding self-consumption, we have found that 2kWp systems can achieve approximately 80% usage of all energy generated, brought close to 100% with battery storage or hot water diverts. By encouraging self-consumption, it means the best value is being obtained by the customer. Regarding practicality, there are schemes around the world still being administered and staffed long after the scheme has closed, hence we welcome the upfront one-off grant payment. This allows for the quick implementation of the scheme and eliminates the grandfather costs when the pilot ends.

We would like to commend the SEAI on their speedy response to Minister Naughten’s call to action. These schemes take a lot of planning and forethought, and the expedited manner in which the members of the SEAI brought this pilot about is a credit to them as an organisation.

Finally, we would like to give credit to our partners at SSE Airtricity for their foresight in all things renewable. SSE Airtricity’s investment in Activ8 further reaffirms their position as the leading supplier of renewable energy to Irish households.

Through our partnership, we are rolling out the following offer to customers -

All current, and new, SSE Airtricity customers who purchase a system from Activ8 will receive €250 cashback from Activ8 on point of install.

Looking at today's announcement, our CEO Ciaran Marron concluded with:
"Having spent the last 12 years in the solar industry, it is not lost on me that we are exactly 12 years away from 2030, a monumental year in our climate change efforts. The announcement today shows our commitment as a country towards our goals in this regard".

For more information on Solar PV and how to avail of the grant, click here.


Stumbling Towards Solar PV Incentives In Ireland

As a key stakeholder in the Irish Solar Industry, this week is a very interesting one indeed.

Today I travel to a number of meetings with many like-minded people within my industry, to see if we can form a strong, stable and exciting incentive to help us move past the label of Europe’s solar laggards.

Tomorrow I travel to Munich, to Intersolar 2018, where I can discuss with our peers in Europe, suppliers and engineers alike on the deemed successes of solar throughout the continent in the past and the products and strategies of the future.

To see where our industry sits at this moment in time we should see the successes achieved both by us and by our nearest neighbours – Northern Ireland. SEAI have done a great job spreading the word of sustainability throughout Ireland, with grants for almost every useful upgrading measure available. To this end, energy conservation and renewable production has almost become glamorous! You need look no further than Diarmuid Gavin on a Sunday afternoon on RTE to realise that triple glazing, insulation and heatpumps are the fashionable things to go for. When it comes to Solar Thermal, SEAI have truly done their part also. We have upgraded thousands of homes through the grant scheme, and thousands of others simply through the knock on effect of testimonials, advocating the effectiveness of established solar homes. Great products, services and savings are infectious, but sometimes need a push to get over the hump of inertia. In this context, Northern Ireland have taken an approach to incentivise Solar PV. From simply driving the road from Dundalk to Castleblayney, you can see the effects from one incentivised region to another.

For those not familiar with the N53, it turns into the A37 (NI) for 5.4 kilometres. As you drive this small stretch of road, you can see what a difference the PV incentive has made. You will see both social and private housing with systems installed, as well as numerous businesses from petrol stations to bars and shops. All reducing the electricity purchased from the grid, saving money and doing their bit for the environment. Then as you move further down the road onto the N53 again you can see domestic customers availing of solar thermal again in the Republic.

A small PV incentive, similar to that which homeowners can obtain for solar thermal in Ireland would put us in a position to catch up with our European counterparts in the renewable stakes. We already have the governing body in place, along with mechanisms to roll this out extremely efficiently. We have checks in place for trade specific qualifications and insurances to ensure the customer is using a properly vetted company. We already have the vehicles in place to do quality insurance inspections to ensure only high quality installers remain on this grant list. We even have an efficient way of trading carbon credits which could also subsidise installation costs in place. Leaving us with 2 roadblocks;

  1. The lack of an incentive in place for solar PV
  2. The lack of planning foresight for Solar PV, as we are still working from exemptions with solar thermal in mind

Change is difficult. Enacting mass change is harder again. Indecision, plodding progress and fear of change is what has us as Europe’s laggards. On a technology that has proven itself throughout European countries for over a decade now. This stumbling progress to date, has left us second from bottom on a list produced by Europe’s largest NGO coalition Climate Action Network (CAN) on Monday just past (18th June 2018) of countries and their progress toward their 2020 goals. However, the aforementioned structures and processes that we already have in place, allows me to look at the current solar landscape and our ability to move forward with solar PV with positivity.

Ciaran Marron
CEO


Post Ophelia & Beast From The East: New Data Confirms Increased Frequency of Extreme Weather Events

Further action urged by European National Science Academies on climate change adaptation.

EUROPEAN ACADEMIES' SCIENCE ADVISORY COUNCIL

 

New data unveiled this week show that extreme weather events have become more frequent over the past 36 years, with a significant uptick in floods and other hydrological events compared even with five years ago, according to a new publication, "Extreme weather events in Europe: Preparing for climate change adaptation: an update on EASAC's 2013 study" by the European Academies' Science Advisory Council (EASAC), a body made up of 27 national science academies in the European Union, Norway, and Switzerland. Given the increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, the EASAC calls for stronger attention to climate change adaptation across the European Union.

Brexit may be taking up a lot of Irish – European discussions, but we must not only raise the issue at that level, we must act on it intrinsically and support renewable energy sources and climate change efforts here in Ireland itself before lecturing elsewhere. It is up to our leaders and policy-makers to improve the adaptability of our own infrastructure and social systems to a changing climate. I think the appetite in Ireland for this is growing given the recent effects of both Storm Ophelia and the “Beast From The East”.

Natural Disasters Graph

Trends in different types of natural catastrophes worldwide 1980-2016 (1980 levels set at 100%)

Around the world, according to the new data released, the number of floods and other hydrological events have quadrupled since 1980 and have doubled since 2004, highlighting the urgency of adaptation to climate change as the frequency worsens! Climatological events, such as extreme temperatures, droughts, and forest fires, have more than doubled since 1980. Meteorological events, such as storms, have doubled since 1980, you can see this in the photo above. These extreme weather events carry substantial economic costs. In the updated data, thunderstorm losses in North America have doubled - from under US$10 billion in 1980 to almost $20 billion in 2015 and yet the USA and the Trump administration, which we criticised in the past here at Activ8, continue to cut funding for the EPA and climate change initiatives as well pulled out of the Paris COP 21 agreement. On a more positive note, river flood losses in Europe show a near-static trend (despite their increased frequency), indicating that protection measures that have been implemented may have stemmed flood losses. Once again, it may be up to Europe to lead the way.

Professor Michael Norton, EASAC's Environment Programme Director states, "Our 2013 Extreme Weather Events report - which was based on the findings of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute - has been updated and the latest data supports our original conclusions: there has been and continues to be a significant increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, making climate proofing all the more urgent. Adaptation and mitigation must remain the cornerstones of tackling climate change. This update is most timely since the European Commission is due to release its evaluation of its climate strategy this year."

Is a contemporary shutdown of the Gulf Stream (AMOC) possible?

The update also reviews evidence on key drivers of extreme events. A major point of debate remains whether the Gulf Stream, or Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), will just decline or could 'switch off' entirely with substantial implications for Northwest Europe's climate. Recent monitoring does suggest a significant weakening but debate continues over whether the gulf stream may "switch off" as a result of the increased flows of fresh water from northern latitude rainfall and melting of the Greenland icecap. EASAC notes the importance of continuing to use emerging oceanographic monitoring data to provide a more reliable forecast of impacts of global warming on the AMOC. The update also notes the recent evidence which suggests an association between the rapid rate of Arctic warming and extreme cold events further south (including in Europe and the Eastern USA) due to a weakened and meandering jet stream.

For us here in Ireland, the devastation that these recent weather events have caused show go a long way to showing us that everyone is being and will continue to be effected by global warming and climate change as a result. If everyone can recognise as much, maybe it's time we all collectively demanded better climate change action from those in power and make the decision to help improve things on a smaller scale. We can't pawn this problem off to future generations, we need to tackle it as quickly as possible. If not today, or tomorrow, maybe The Day After Tomorrow (Pun intended).


Activ8 Presenting as Industry Leader at Solar Ireland 17

Our very own Gary Connolly presented on Rooftop Solar and the challenges facing us now and in the future at Solar Ireland 17, an event hosted by the ISEA - Irish Solar Energy Asociation. It was great to present on such an important topic as one of Irelands leading solar companies and on such an important issue.

Gary presented on the topic of "Challenges of domestic solar market with no incentive" and was part of a discussion panel that included some fellow industry leaders as we look at the domestic solar landscape in 2017 and the future of it here in Ireland.

 


ISEA


European Research Council Grant €1.5m to UL Researcher For Solar PV Technology Work

Further growing the trend of energy research in Ireland and Europe as a whole, Micheál Scanlon of UL has received a European Research Council Starting Grant of €1.5 million to further his research into clean energy, specifically pushing the science involved in solar photovoltaic.

The electrochemist is to deepen his research into imitating photosynthesis in the leaves of plants to generate clean electricity. In doing so, he is the only recipient in Ireland in the area of physical sciences. With energy consumption expected to double globally over the next 30 years, it is deemed vital that technologies such as solar PV and the growing research in this area are supported to help Ireland, Europe and the wider world to achieve sustainability.

Within the next 15 years, the solar PV market in Europe alone is projected to be worth €10bn per annum.

The new approach from the UL researcher aims to achieve solar energy conversion using a liquid-to-liquid interface rather than the solid materials used in today's solar PV panels, such as the Suntech panels we use here at Activ8 Solar Energies, which are Bloomberg Tier 1 panels.

“Liquid-liquid interfaces are found everywhere in nature, including in the membranes of cells in plant leaves, which are photosynthetic. There are light-harvesting molecules called chlorophyll in these membranes.

“The liquid-liquid interfaces I use have the fantastic ability to trap and bring molecules together, especially molecules that are similar to chlorophyll. By coating these interfaces in all sorts of light-harvesting molecules, I can create an artificial photosynthetic membrane capable of producing energy.”

The funding grant will go to assisting Dr. Scanlon’s goal to study the interaction of light with the artificial photosynthetic membranes he is creating.

It is important that we continually push the boundaries of research in the area of clean energy here in Ireland. In the meantime, it’s just as important that we use the technologies available to us now to help protect the environment. What’s more, the ability to save money on your electricity bills puts Irish homeowners in the unique position of being able to save money in the long-term while also helping protect the environment!


While Donald Messes It Up Again, Let’s Make The Planet Great Again

Trump Pulling America Out of The Paris Agreement

Donald Trump is making a mockery of our planet, its future and also the underlying theme of “Make America Great Again”. By pulling America out of the Paris Agreement, he is making America’s outlook on science, technology and green energy “draconian”. The word he used to describe the measures within the agreement itself. After America making exceptional progress in clean energy through solar, wind, tidal and many others, Donald Trump is hell bent on turning back the clock in America. But in doing so, he is completely contradicting what made America a great nation in the past.

History of America Investing In Science & Technology

He refers to making America great “again”, but the reasons for which America was once considered a great nation, is because they invested and championed scientific and technological innovation. There are many examples of this, but one in particular brings us a timeline of how American investment in these areas has brought us to this point in time. Some of America’s most successful and brightest minds, who now publicly lead the calls for investment in clean energy were created through similar scientific and technological investment more than 50 years ago.

I recently read a book called Creativity Inc. In it, author and co-founder of Pixar, Ed Catmull talks about how decades ago in the face of global unrest, tensions with Russia and other global issues that troubled America and allies, the American government decided that it would become great through science, engineering and technology. Ed Catmull himself ended up going back to grad school at Utah and participated in ARPA, the Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“The creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was authorized by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958 for the purpose of forming and executing research and development projects to expand the frontiers of technology and science” - Dwight D. Eisenhower and Science & Technology, (2008).

They poured millions of dollars into ARPA and similar initiatives that sponsored post-graduate collegiate programmes such as the one Ed Catmull found himself in. The definition above outlines their focused ambition on science and technology. They also did this, without giving specific direction. Instead, they trusted the budding young minds and leadership skills of scientists and entrepreneurs across America. These were the people tasked with moving America forward. Making it great even.

With Ed Catmull, he ended up making advancements in computer graphics and soon after, we ended up with Pixar. I presume the American government didn’t have computer graphics on the top of their list of priorities, but it became a global leader in a new market. Within this context, but covered in another fantastic book (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell), the advancements made in computer science through this investment led to an opportunity for 3 men born within 6 months of each other in 1954 and 1955 – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Bill Joy. The opportunities they had in their late teens was to continue the revolution for America in these areas. The great technology feats of these men have directly led to a lot of technologies we use on a daily basis. You’re reading this on a device using technologies they’ve built or helped shape and more than likely through the internet, a technology that Bill Joy shaped with his UNIX servers.

It’s a long-winded explanation, but of the men I’ve just named above, two are alive and both of them are thought leaders and real champions of clean energy, with Bill Gates strongly advocating solar energy. And that brings us to right now. Donal Trump wants to make “America Great Again” and Emmanuel Macron has hit back with the notion that we need to come together to “Make Our Planet Great Again”.

But outside of this political jousting, we need to listen to our brightest minds, the people at the forefront of present science that are desperately trying to forge a future for the science and technologies that truly will make our planet great.

So while Donald misses the point of what made America a great nation in decades past, we need to look to those who were involved in the advancements of yesteryears breakthrough technologies. Because right now, the technologies we need are in clean energy, sustainable energy systems and beyond.

We will do this with or without the United States of America, but the underlying context of division and “sovereignty” Donald Trump is leading is disappointing and unsettling.

In the face of global climate change fears, just like many other global issues we face today; unity is what we really need.


Increase In Energy Use In 2015 But Increase In Renewable Energy Too

The official body for sustainable and renewable energy here in Ireland, the SEAI, released their official national energy statistics on November 23rd. The report shows that there had been significant growth in energy use across almost all sectors of the Irish economy in 2015. Energy in Ireland 1990-2015, illustrates the first significant growth in energy use since 2010 at almost 5%. In line with this figure, energy-related CO2 emmissions increased by 6%. Both of these figures are understandably put in the context of strong economic growth in 2015 within the report.

Greenhouse Gas Emmissions

When looking at greenhouse gas emmissions, energy accounts for about 60% of the total. This puts a greater emphasis on the importance of developing low-carbon solutions in this industry for Ireland. Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, we’re obviously already providing this in terms of solar thermal and also solar PV, but we’ll continue to look at developing technologies and how we can help Irish homes make improvements in energy efficiency.

Renewables

Over 9% of Ireland’s energy use came from renewable energy souces, which is great. But we’re still quite a bit off our 16% target which needs to be reached by 2020. Looking at the 9% figure however, this has resulted in almost 4 million tonnes of CO2 being avoided as well a cut-down in over €400m of energy imports.

When it comes to electricity alone, over a quarter of our electricity needs were provided through renewable energy including wind, hydro, landfill gas and bioenergy – with our solar electricity levels at a very low level in comparison to countries with similar climates and circumstances to us. There is optimism that this will grow significantly in the next couple of years. In addition, renewables contributed 5.7% to energy use in transport and 6.5% in the heating sector.

On the SEAI website, Jim Gannon, SEAI Chief Executive said:
“The publication of these energy figures is a timely and pertinent analysis of Ireland’s energy usage following the conclusion of COP22 in Marrakech last week and Ireland’s ratification of the Paris Agreement earlier in November. We are seeing good progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency, however, this needs to be further accelerated to keep pace with higher economic activity and demand for energy. The Government is already responding to this challenge with significant increased funding committed to energy efficiency and renewable heat in Budget 2017. This allows us to build on the progress to date and continue to decarbonise our energy system which will reduce costs, improve energy security and reduce environmental impact.”
Jim Gannon continued: “In 2015 the average household emitted 5.5 tonnes of CO2of which 61% came from direct fuel use in the home and the remainder from electricity use. The transition to a sustainable, low-carbon energy system requires the participation of citizens and communities in both decision-making and action. It is vital that we have an informed debate about the choices for Ireland as we move to a low-carbon economy. SEAI is committed to the provision of timely, robust and transparent data to ensure that policy development, decision-making and our energy transition is based on high quality data and evidence.”