Residents in the Dingle Peninsula could potentially produce and consume their own electricity supply becoming more self-sufficient while also reducing their carbon footprint, this was the key message of the Sustainability Dingle final report presented recently to local stakeholders in a workshop addressing the conclusions of the project.

Funded by Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI), the Sustainability Dingle project led by Walton Institute at South East Technological University (SETU), in collaboration with Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Dingle Creativity and Innovation Hub, and the Corca Dhuibhne Community Energy group, assessed and demonstrated the capacity for a locally owned and managed electricity supply for the Dingle Peninsula, through the establishment of Renewable Energy Communities (REC’s).  

Using REC’s Sustainability Dingle provides an alternative, more efficient and greener method for powering the region by organising consumers into groups, so they can work together to balance their energy supply and demand. The REC concept comes from new EU Directives which enable local groups to generate, sell, store, and share energy within their communities. Currently, local groups such as West Kerry are not engaged in the Clean Energy Transition and REC’s can provide the scale and legal framework to become actively involved.

The Sustainability Dingle team developed a software platform which facilitates the creation of REC’s, maximising their sustainability by integrating renewable energy, batteries, and smart grid technologies. Researchers began by modelling a small cluster of industrial and residential end users before rolling out geographically along the network to include the entire peninsula. Using data from ESB Networks, they also assessed the power of the local grid to maintain the region and concluded that the capacity is available to power West Kerry if the electricity generated in the area is distributed there.

“The Sustainability Dingle project has demonstrated how Renewable Energy Communities can be a significant driver of the Clean Energy Transition and our movement towards toward a global net zero energy system,” explained Project Lead, Sean Lyons, Walton Institute. “Integrating renewables to match local demand can balance the local grid and sweat the assets in a more efficient manner which will be critical as we electrify heat and transport.”

Unfortunately, the Sustainability Dingle model cannot be realised until government implements new European legislation which allows communities to generate and share electricity as currently seen in other European countries such as France and Spain. However, the project provides solid results which can assist in transposing these directives to suit the Irish market.

The Walton Institute team are currently involved in a new EU Interreg project called SAtComm which will look to establish REC’s in France, Spain and Portugal as well as Ireland going forward as the new directives are implemented.