A Major energy upgrade was completed in Aug 2021at the Millennium Centre in Caherconlish. The planning, systems research and funding requirements and grant aid for this project began in April 2017. Work on an application for Leader funding started in early 2019 with help and support from Ballyhoura development. Provisional approval for Leader funding of €200,000 was granted in March 2020 by the Local Council Development Committee (LCDC) In January 2021 a full Leader grant was approved for a revised and reduced programme of works after working through the eTenders process. The capital expenditure was scaled back to €104,000 as the centre could not meet the funding deficit as all income from activities had seized when the pandemic lockdown arrived! The companies that won the eTenders competition started work in mid-February 2021. Solar Electricity Generator A 100kW Solar PV generator has been installed on the roof of the centre. It's covering over 80% of the electricity consumption at the centre during summer from 6am to 9pm even on full overcast and rainy days It is a relatively large system and will provide at least 50% of the consumption over the full year even when the centre returns to delivering the full service to our community. We're waiting for the government to bring in the promised Feed-in Tariff (FiT) was expected to allow us to trade power from July 2021, however, this has not happened yet but we hope our political leaders deliver on this promise this year. This will also bring in some extra income to the centre to offset running costs. We are also researching the setting up of a Community Energy Co-Operative where the roofs on all the homes, farms, public buildings and local businesses in our locality would install solar roof generators to share and trade the excess power within the membership and with other similar communities and the national grid. This would result in a big reduction in the cost of electricity for all the members. This is a reality all over Europe e.g., REScoop.eu is the European federation of citizen energy cooperatives. This is a rapidly growing network of over 1,900 European energy cooperatives and their 1.25 million citizens who are active in the energy transition. Community Power based in Templederry, Co Tipperary is the first ENERGY CO-OP to get going in Ireland. New 500 Litre Hot Water Tank A new 500L special solar-powered hot water tank has been installed. This water will be primarily heated using a smart power diverter of solar-generated electricity, which would otherwise be exported to the grid, to a pair of immersion heaters on the tank. The tank can also be connected to an Air to Water heat pump in the future when funding becomes available again. LED Lighting All lighting in the building has been upgraded to vastly more energy-efficient LEDs. Previous lighting energy and maintenance cost: was ~ €7,000 pa. Using all LED lighting energy maintenance and replacement parts are predicted to reduce the costs by around 30% to ~ €4,200 pa. The quality of the light is also very obviously superior in all areas but especially in the sports hall where the old Sodium lights gave a very yellow dreary atmosphere which is now replaced with virtually bright daylight. One user described it as “like a transformation from night today”. Heat Pumped Air Curtain An air curtain that is driven by a Heat Pump provides a 4:1 reduction in electric power used compared to a standard electric heater that has been installed at the main entrance. This will provide a huge reduction in heat loss caused by the very large footfall at the centre when the main doors are open. This will be especially effective over the winter months. It will also act as the heat source in the reception lobby and improve the comfort level for staff and all users. Refrigeration and Cooling in the Kitchen An Air conditioning unit has been installed in the kitchen area to maintain the air temperature at 200 C as it would soar up to 30¬0 C during all cooking activities. The refrigeration units were 24Hrs all year as they were competing against the heat generated by the cookers. This unit will reduce the energy consumed and provide a more comfortable working for the kitchen staff Cavity wall insulation Cavity wall insulation has been pumped into all external walls which helps to reduce the rate of heat loss from the building. This measure will reduce the heating bills and improve the general comfort for all users. Conclusion This project shows what can be achieved by working together, even during the long months of the Covid 19 pandemic and how strong our community spirit is! We are confident that it will help to sustain the long-term viability of the Millennium Centre as well as reducing our carbon emissions. It is an exemplary project and it will, hopefully, encourage our community to upgrade their homes, farms and businesses to reduce their energy bills, make their homes more comfortable while reducing our environmental impact.
Thank you Peter Tiernan Facebook: @visionairtechnologies