Minister Ryan announces €28 million Government funding call for community energy projects
Published on 18 December 2020
DECC and SEAI to support more communities through increased funding announced in Budget 2021
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has launched a €28 million fund for community energy projects across Ireland. The Community Energy Grant Scheme is funded under the National Retrofit Programme and is now open for applications. It offers grant support for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects throughout the country. The Scheme supports substantial investment in energy upgrades to homes, community and commercial buildings. This includes rented properties, businesses, sports and community facilities, public sector buildings and schools. The successful communities will have warmer and healthier buildings, lower energy bills and reduced harmful CO2 emissions. There are also significant employment and competitiveness benefits locally and nationally.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) are administering the new scheme, which is an enhanced version of the previous Better Energy Communities Scheme. This support follows on from previous supports to 430 community projects which are already generating €70 million in annual energy savings. Projects like the Collinstown Park School project linked renewable energy and environmental education to achieve its sustainability goals. They reduced their lighting costs by an incredible 90% and secured 50% funding for their project from SEAI. The Birches Azheimer centre in Dundalk also participated in the Communities scheme to obtain energy efficiency upgrades to keep dementia patients warmer, especially during the winter. Energy upgrades included attic, roof and cavity wall insulation. They also installed an air-to-water heat pump system, and a solar PV system.
This new scheme has a larger budget, will accommodate larger project and now offers enhanced support for upgrade of rented properties. Applicants will also benefit from a shorter evaluation time and a significantly longer time in which to carry out the projects.
Minister Ryan said:
"I am delighted to announce that our new community energy grants are open for applications. The increased budget for the Scheme and other improvements will enable delivery of larger projects and more wide-scale benefits. By shortening the evaluation period and lengthening the works window, this scheme (and its sister scheme – The One Stop Shop Development Scheme, which opened for applications in September) will help make the retrofit sector the year-round industry we intend it to be. Besides the very real benefits in the homes and communities for people all over Ireland, this scheme will help grow the market and create high quality sustainable jobs in the retrofit and energy service sector. This sector has a bright future for good quality careers for decades to come."
William Walsh, CEO of SEAI, said:
"Communities are central to achieving climate action across our society. SEAI is working with hundreds of energy communities across the country, providing them with the knowledge, structure and Government supports to complete their own ambitious low carbon journey. Already, almost 19,000 homes and 2,900 public, community and commercial buildings have been upgraded making them warmer, healthier and more efficient. The achievements of these communities can be replicated, drawing even more participants into Ireland's clean energy transition."
More information on the community grants is available from SEAI
The Scheme will deliver multiple local and community benefits, including:
- Facilitating the upgrade of hundreds of homes, including privately rented properties, to a high B2 BER standard
- Supporting community, business and public sector bodies to become more energy efficient or upgrade their buildings - cutting costs and carbon emissions
- Providing support to help Sustainable Energy Communities deliver on local energy project goals
- Supporting renewable energy solutions where included as part of a broader project
It also supports a number of important Strategic National Goals, such as:-
- Promoting the growth of the retrofit and energy service company market thereby creating more quality sustainable and green jobs.
- Reducing energy waste, energy bills and carbon emissions which helps us meet national and EU efficiency and environment goals.
The scheme has introduced some administrative changes for applicants, building on community feedback from previous schemes:
- The maximum evaluation period is reduced to eight weeks
- Support for energy upgrades in privately rented properties is increased to 35% for eligible measures
- The scheme will now operate a significantly longer works window of January to October
- Maximum funding for larger projects has been increased to €2 million
How the scheme works
Project co-ordinators combine home retrofits, business sector and or community or public sector facility projects together into an aggregated project package that meet the criteria stipulated by SEAI who operate the scheme.
Projects are scored based on factors which include value for money, energy saving impact, carbon savings, partnership and community approach and delivery capacity with funding awarded to qualifying projects on a first come first served basis until the funding is committed.