Local communities in Ireland are set to benefit from €20 million under the 2016 Better Energy Communities scheme, which will fund energy efficiency improvements across a range of projects.
The retrofit scheme, which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), has supported 260 community energy efficiency projects in the last four years, upgrading over 12,000 homes and community buildings.
The 2016 scheme was unveiled by Alex White, minister for communications, energy and natural resources, who said: “This funding will enable the Better Energy Communities programme to continue to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions, while improving living standards and quality of life for the people and communities it supports.
“The building upgrades funded under the programme support local construction jobs, demonstrating that lower-carbon communities also reap positive economic and social benefits. The programme has grown year on year as communities work together to bring about real and lasting change in the energy efficiency of their homes, businesses and community buildings.”
The 2016 scheme will seek to support innovative financing models and projects from public and private partnerships, as well as charitable or voluntary organisations. Preliminary submission dates have been proposed for 8 January 2016 to Friday 12 February with an official launch date yet to be announced. Potential applicants are being encouraged to start engaging early with community partners for large or small projects. The grants will be available predominantly for insulation and heating upgrades, although there will also be provision for the use of some renewable technologies.
A spokesperson for SEAI said: “It’s up to the project coordinators to decide what fits best for their community, the partners involved and what they’re trying to achieve from the work.”
John Randles, head of delivery with SEAI, added: “Better Energy Communities is one of SEAI’s key programmes which brings benefits to private, public and community organisations whilst they collaborate and demonstrate that energy efficient and renewable technologies work. This is often achieved by innovative partnerships and innovative financing and delivery solutions. The projects being delivered are becoming more ambitious as the programme has grown and this is thanks to the outstanding and combined efforts of so many willing partners who are focused on a common goal for their community.
“With almost €20 million in grants available in 2016, SEAI would like to see new ways of delivering the projects that can bring the maximum benefit to local areas.”
In the past, the Better Energy Communities scheme has funded a range of community projects, with the 2015 scheme offering up to €170,634 available per project. According to the SEAI, further details of the 2016 scheme will be made available in the coming weeks.