Bere may har­ness re­new­able en­ergy

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Áilín Quin­lan

The com­mu­nity of a West Cork is­land is con­sid­er­ing in­stalling re­new­able-en­ergy de­vices to turn nat­u­ral en­ergy into fund­ing for ser­vices, or even into the cre­ation of new jobs.

A del­e­ga­tion from Bere Is­land got the idea dur­ing a re­cent trip to a pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence about the chal­lenges fac­ing small is­lands.

The 17th AGM and an­nual con­fer­ence of the Euro­pean Small Is­lands Fed­er­a­tion was held last week, in the Orkney is­lands, off Scot­land.

John Walsh, de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer of Bere Is­land, who is vice-chair of ESIN and one of three West Cork del­e­gates to the con­fer­ence, said it got the West Cork del­e­ga­tion think­ing: “We heard about how one is­land, off the Orkneys, has its own wind­mill, gen­er­at­ing en­ergy, and fund­ing com­mu­nity ser­vices, such as a com- mu­nity bus and taxi and outof-hours ferry ser­vices, as a re­sult.” The del­e­ga­tion re­turned to Bere Is­land with the idea of in­stalling re­new­able en­ergy de­vices to har­ness wave en­ergy, ti­dal en­ergy, or so­lar en­ergy to raise funds, or even cre­ate jobs, Mr Walsh said.

“We are think­ing in terms of gen­er­at­ing and sell­ing en­ergy, and ei­ther us­ing the pro­ceeds to pro­vide com­mu­nity ser­vices, or pro­vide free en­ergy to com­pa­nies that would be pre­pared to re­lo­cate to Bere Is­land from the main­land,” he said.

“Re­new­able en­ergy has the po­ten­tial to de­velop the Irish is­lands to be­come lead­ers in the de­vel­op­ment of re­new­able en­ergy, and in re­search and de­vel­op­ment in new tech­nolo­gies in wave and ti­dal en­ergy, and in smart-grid de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

Ac­com­pa­nied by two del­e­gates from Cape Clear, Mr Walsh said it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence for all the Bere rep­re­sen­ta­tives to visit the Orkney is­lands, which are well-known for their cut­ting-edge lead­er­ship in re­new­able tech­nol­ogy.

Dur­ing the trip, the group of 32 del­e­gates — who came from 13 coun­tries in Europe — vis­ited the small is­land of Shap­in­say.

There, a lo­cal de­vel­op­ment trust was set up to bring in­come to the is­land’s 300 in­hab­i­tants, through wind power.

Now, their wind tur­bine, Whor­ley, gen­er­ates an an­nual in­come of £90,000, to be spent on com­mu­nity projects, run­ning a free minibus and elec­tric taxi for is­lan­ders and vis­i­tors, and a 12-seater, ‘out of hours’ ferry to al­low is­lan­ders more flex­i­bil­ity in their travel to and from the Orkney main­land.

How­ever, the most ben­e­fi­cial of all the ac­tiv­i­ties on the con­fer­ence pro­gramme, said Mr Walsh, was the qual­ity of the ex­changes be­tween is­lan­ders from all cor­ners of Europe.

“They found they had much in com­mon, in terms of op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges”, he said, adding that dis­cussing these in a for­mal, as well as an in­for­mal, set­ting, was of huge ben­e­fit.

Ar­danakilla light­house, on Bere: the is­lan­ders may install de­vices to har­ness wind, ti­dal, and so­lar en­ergy.

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