|Fáilte. Welcome to our website. We are now nearly 8 years into our 10 year project to make the Aran Islands fossil fuel free. If we can do it, any local community throughout Ireland can do it. De réir a chéile a thógtar na caisleáin. |
It’s a bottom-up approach, where we, the energy citizens in the local community, take power literally into our own hands. This is an opportunity we must grab while we have it. All this energy, wind, wave and light, is available to us locally, and if we can harness it for our own community needs we will create a citizen’s revolution where power reverts to the locality and is taken away from the big corporations. In the process, we will create sustainable communities, clean up our planet and stem climate change.There are three legs to our project: heating, transport and energy generation.
On the heating front, we are slowly upgrading all 500 homes and other buildings on the islands. We have a few hundred homes retrofitted, some to a very high level, and more planned. Retrofits include external wall insulation on the older ones, heat pumps for hot water and heating, solar PV on the roof.
On the transport front, the Renault Fluence EVs are now visible on Árainn, as are the Renault Kangoo EVs. The Kangoos can be both vans and people carriers. We have both. We also have the Nissan Leaf and the BMW EV. These are ideal electric cars for the 3 islands. Of course, we also have over 1,000 bicycles (including electric) and 30 ponies and traps available for hire! Very eco-friendly!
Regarding energy generation, there are approximately 50 houses (10%) fitted with air to water heat pumps, and with 2 kW of photovoltaic panels installed on their roofs. There are also approximately 10 homes with geothermal heating. We also have approximately 100 houses with solar hot water panels. Battery storage has also been introduced on a few buildings. We are also planning a wind turbine for Árainn (Inis Mór) which will be big enough to supply all our needs. Its location will be away from tourist routes, houses and from the most scenic areas. Slowly, our fossil fuel dependence is reducing. We are keeping track of this through the records of our cargo vessel, that carries all fossil fuels to the islands.
Working mainly with NUI Galway and GMIT, we are now participating in many different research studies related to creating a micro-grid and smart sustainable technologies. These are mainly EU funded projects with other international partners. In one of these projects, we are partners in setting up Community Power (see www.communitypower.ie), Ireland’s first community owned renewable energy supplier.
In another two related projects SEAFUEL and HUGE, we are looking at the possibility of creating hydrogen fuel on the islands. This fuel would then be available for our ferries and for local transport, especially our minibuses. We also work with students doing post-graduate research.Our vision includes the aim to make our offshore islands ‘lighthouse’ communities that will show the way in the energy transition. In the process, our islands will become centres of excellence in the whole area of renewable energy and sustainable living. This will give our islands a positive role within the national community and will create a broader range of employment on the islands, thus maintaining our islands’ valuable heritage.
Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árainn Teoranta (CFOAT) now has one full-time manager and two part-time assistants. We have started to create jobs and we hope to continue doing so. We will only achieve our goals with support from government, semi-state bodies, universities, private companies and individuals. Thankfully, this support is continuing to build. We are constantly on the search for new allies, interested parties, and of course funding sources. Connect with us if you see an opportunity, a way you could help, or if you would like to be involved. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.