We were delighted to officially launch our Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) on Tuesday the 2nd of November. This launch coincided with United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. Nations from around the world are waking up to the realities of climate change and pledging to make the necessary changes to avert ecological and social breakdown.

While many of these commitments are commendable, and an important milestone on the road towards a Just Transition, it’s hard not to read between the lines and question our capacity to change within the existing system. From the Australian government’s refusal to phase out coal and our own Government already rolling back on proposed cuts to methane emission the majority of national pledges are deemed “too weak to avoid catastrophic warming.”

With climate anxiety is on the rise initatives, such as SEAI’s Sustainable Energy Communities take on greater importance as they offer communities a chance to step away from the doom and gloom and take the lead with collective action in their local area. It is clear from the response to the launch of our SEC the community of Athenry want to engage with this form of community-led action. Over 40 people signed up for the call and heard from two speakers:

  • Our SEAI mentor, Orla Nic Suibhne, gave an overview of the SEC network and the range of supports available. A copy of Orla’s presentation can be downloaded here.
  • Cian Croghan and Tracey Turner from ORS provide further information on the energy masterplan and the next stages of the project. Their presentation is available to view here.

In the coming weeks we will be publishing a community energy survey, prepared by ORS, to give us important data for the energy masterplan. The project is expected to run for about six months. During this time we will also be enaging with the local community, building the capacity of the SEC and mapping out a sustainable, long-term, vision for the town that connects with our public space design project to Reimagine Athenry.

The long-term vision for the project is to launch community energy projects in the town that can support a Just Transition by making use of sustainable assets in the community. SEAI recently launched a comphrensive Community Enabling Framework that covers this process in great detail. These guides can be viewed online here: https://www.seai.ie/community-energy/ress/enabling-framework/

If you have any questions about the SEC, or would like to get involved, don’t hesitate to contact us here.

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash.

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