Renewable Energy

Áras Éanna is currently undergoing a major renewable energy retrofit as part of a larger Aran Islands effort to become energy independent by 2022.

Spearheaded by the recently founded Comharchumann Fuinneamh Oileáin Árainn on Inismore and Comhar Caomhán Teoranta on Inishere and with inward investment from SEAI (Sustainable Energy Association of Ireland) and Údarás na Gaeltachta, Áras Éanna has seen substantial investment in 2012/2013 in the following areas:

  1. External insulation of all external walls plus cavity wall and roof insulation.
  2. All new windows and doors
  3. New Swedish Icestick heat exchange  system
  4. New Quantum storage heaters from Glen Dimplex
  5. 4kW Photovoltaic electricity generation cells
  6. All LED lighting system

With these improvements Áras Éanna has cut energy costs substantially and has become a cosy environment in which to work, create, exhibit and perform.

In the future and with continued inward renewable energy investment from state bodies and in cooperation with the aforementioned co-ops, Áras Éanna wishes to move on to the next stage of energy independence by replacing it’s antiquated asbestos roof with a new electricity generating solar roof.

Battery storage for excess electricity generation is also part of this plan.

With the current impressive uptake in renewables on the Aran Islands by households and businesses alike  and steady progress being made towards full energy independence, Áras Éanna will play it’s part by becoming a major demonstration centre for renewable energy technologies on the Aran Islands.
Major progress is also being made on the Aran Islands with the new concept of Renewable Energy Tourism in association with the European funded REMOTE programme at NUIG.

People interested in renewables are willing to travel to view these technologies working on site as has happened in Austria and Scotland and the Aran Islands hope to be in a position to be  leaders in this new area of tourism in Ireland in the foreseeable future.




Ireland’s first real life community moving from fossil fuel dependency to independent, sustainable renewable energy

Aran Islands Energy Independence 2022 With a long and proud tradition of independent self reliance the Aran Islands are determined to focus their renewable energy strategy on maximising the sustainable secondary benefit opportunities presented by new and developing technologies and will actively seek to establish and attract new businesses and industry which will compliment the Islands existing businesses in order to maximise the local social, environmental and economic rewards of sustainable energy production.

In 1997 the Danish island of Samsø (pop 4,300) started to develop renewable  energy, it now exceeds 100% renewable energy production and benefits from over half a million visitors a year as a result. During the 1980’s the Austrian town of Güssing, (pop 27,000) was in serious economic decline.

In 1992 a radical renewable energy economic policy was started and by 2001 it was energy self-sufficient.  Güssing is now an EU model for community self-regeneration reducing its energy requirement by 50% and producing 100% of is heating from biomass, 150% of its bio diesel and 250% of its electricity needs, combined with significant economic growth with over 50 new companies and over 1,000 new jobs created, considerable tourist growth and circa €14 million p/a retained in the local economy.

In Sept 2012 the Aran Islands Energy Co-operative with the assistance of the S E A I , Údarás na Gaeltachta , sponsorship from private commercial companies and the local community, undertook a pilot demonstration project for energy efficiency & conservation measures for selected public buildings on the Aran Islands.

The project was successfully concluded in November 2012. Building on this and existing energy studies by the SEAI and other state and private bodies, the energy co-op and a small team of energy consultants.

In Sept 2012 the Aran Islands Energy Co-operative with the assistance of the SEAI, Údarás na Gaeltachta, sponsorship from private commercial companies and the local community, undertook a pilot demonstration project for energy efficiency & conservation measures for selected public buildings on the Aran Islands.

The project was successfully concluded in November 2012. Building on this and existing energy studies by the SEAI and other state and private bodies, the energy co-op and a small team of energy consultants.

prepared the energy independence 2022 road map which clearly identified supporting the local economy by energy efficiency & conservation measures, followed by encouraging and improving local sources of electricity generation.

In order to maximise and capitalise on the improved energy efficiency and local generation, better and smarter ways of using energy are being developed, innovated and integrated.

The objective of the Aran Islands 2013 programme, in conjunction with the SEAI is a co-ordinated program of energy efficiency / conservation and generation measures to be undertaken across the Islands with a target of 25% of homes to be upgraded to a minimum BER C1 rating by the end of 2013.

Working with the SEAI’s Better Energy Communities Project to focus on public demonstrations of energy efficiency, generation and smart energy storage technologies, flexible demand and building innovative, resilient, viable commercial and collaborative relationships with other communities, state, academic and private companies as technology partners working in the energy sector in Ireland, with a defined overall focus of making the Aran Islands “Smart Grid ready “and achieving a practical working smart micro-grid within 2 to 3 years.


The Aran Islands are an ideal test bed to measure the effectiveness of such measures as currently the islands are 100% dependent on imported energy.

Every litre of fuel, cylinder of gas and tonne of coal is measurable as an import. Electricity is supplied via a modern, well maintained, 20kv local grid with a quantifiable single access point to the national grid. The islands also have an existing wind farm under refurbishment and as part of the SEAI’s trials the highest proportion of electric vehicles in Ireland.

An accurate baseline survey of energy imports is currently nearing completion, providing an easily verifiable and quantifiable benchmark for confirmation of the value of these measures both in energy and economic terms.

Smart Micro Grid

This unique combination of resources presents enormous opportunities for commercial technology trials, researchers and innovators seeking convincing test sites and proof of concept facilities to validate their renewable energy production technologies.

Achieving the Aran Islands objective of energy independence by 2022 will also demonstrate the significant social, economic and environmental gains to be made from a focused, accepted and quantifiable multiyear plan, providing the first real life community to make the transition from increasingly expensive fossil fuel dependency to independent, economically secure and sustainable renewable energy sources.

It will also provide a working “come and see for yourself” how it can be done, template for wider community acceptance and understanding of the forthcoming transition to a national and global sustainable energy and economic future.



Aran Islands to be Energy Independent by 2022

In early 2012 Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann (Aran Islands Energy Cooperative) and the Aran Islands Community announced the objective of the Aran Islands being energy independent by 2022 and becoming Ireland’s first energy transition community. Currently the islands are entirely (100%) dependent on imported energy.

They also have higher energy bills than the mainland of Ireland due to the additional transport costs.

During our current economic crisis with record unemployment, extensive job insecurity, harsh budget cuts, hefty tax increases, new taxes, additional charges, frozen banks and economic stagnation, most people in their daily lives are concerned about jobs, taxes, price increases, unemployment, youth unemployment, resurgent emigration, the lack of opportunity, an absence
of a vision and belief in the future.

But there is hope, opportunity and a simple solution which Works.

Local Development by Local Community Led Energy Projects

Successful European models provide verifiable evidence that local investment in renewable energy does tackle and reverse economic decline. Investment in the development of community based renewable energy projects for local community benefit, does result in local job creation and stimulates local economic development. It also provides the community with energy price stability and energy security.

Local self determination and energy transition is the best response strategy to many of today's daunting challenges and to ensure both our own and our children’s futures. Numerous people, who favour and/or consider themselves supporters of renewable energy do not realise that they can access, invest in and benefit from local community renewable energy schemes and achieve a secure 100% renewable energy supply in the near future.

Far too often people consider renewable energy the exclusive preserve of large utility companies. This is not the case. We only have to look to countries like Denmark, Germany and Austria, where it is quite obvious that renewable energy is widely accepted, welcomed and encouraged.

These countries have been, and continue to very successfully progress renewable energy integration and are building a 100% secure future energy supply.

The support, acceptance and successful integration of renewable energy in these countries, is largely founded on widespread and broad based levels of ordinary people’s participation in local and community renewable energy schemes and the social and financial benefits they deliver.

Projects are designed to benefit the local community, they provide and enhance both value and economic security.

The renewable energy projects are initiated locally, created with local investment and support from local enterprise. They are carefully designed with local consultation and cooperation to maximise local benefit from local resources.

This is the single most important factor and is the key to success in using renewable energy to stimulate economic growth within the local community. They are not imposed by external entities for the benefit of others.

SEAI Electric Car Trials on Aran

Denmark is comparable to Ireland, where since the 1970’s local community investment by ordinary people has resulted in over 100 wind turbine cooperatives which have a combined community ownership of 75% of the country's wind turbines.

The Danes have also answered the key challenge of integrating variable wind energy by combining heat and electricity generation (or power) (CHP) through local decentralised district heating systems and tripling energy efficiency.

The majority of district heating systems in Denmark are owned by communities, giving control to the people and ensuring that sustainable energy is distributed to the communities at fair affordable prices.




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