Thursday, February 08, 2018

Solar panels mooted to cut Kilcullen energy costs

Public buildings in Kilcullen could have solar panels installed on their roofs in a scheme to make the town more energy efficient, writes Brian Byrne.

The idea was discussed at length at last night's meeting of Kilcullen Community Action, when Padraig Moloney outlined the status of discussions he'd had with sustainable energy experts.

He said that if KCA registered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, that organisation would carry out an assessment of Kilcullen and come up with an 'Energy Master Plan' which would provide a holistic view of what could be done here.

The possibility of rebuilding the weir and provide power from the river had been discussed, Padraig said. But that would require a 10' drop from the upper to the lower level. "The alternative would be to put in an in-stream generator, but that wouldn't provide very much electricity," he added.

He told the meeting that following a Government-commissioned consultation last year, the SEAI is now looking much more at solar panels as a cost-efficient way for communities to use alternative energy.

"The technology has improved, the costs have come down, installation can be done in a couple of days, and no planning permission is needed."

The idea is that solar panels on the town's public buildings would generate electricity that could be sold back into the national electricity grid, thus reducing the energy costs for those buildings.

In the discussion, possible suitable buildings suggested included the Town Hall, the Community Centre, Schools, and the Teach na nDaoine currently in construction. The parish church was also mentioned.

Padraig said the community would have to fund the installations itself, as SEAI grant aid is currently closed. Noel Clare said there were other grant aids available, including from Leader, though this year's tranche from that source is also now closed.

Noel also noted another option, that organisations within the community could invest in a solar farm outside the town, and in return get a cut in their electricity costs. "They don't need to be wired to it, as they get their discounts simply because they are investors in the project."

It was suggested that the former Silliot Hill landfill facility, now closed, would make a very suitable site for that kind of project.

The meeting decided that KCA would do the necessary registration with SEAI and get the survey in train.