Bere may harness renewable energy
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.