Kevin Doolin, Executive Director at Walton Institute, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has been awarded Government of Ireland funding for research into the role Energy Communities can play in the Clean Energy Transition programme through the SEAI National Energy Research Development and Demonstration (RD&D) fund. Sean Lyons, Energy Technical Lead at WIT will lead the development team with Kevin Doolin acting as project Principal Investigator. 

Renewable energy has been a focus for the Walton Institute for many years, leading a number of research projects in this field. The piSCES project concentrated on optimising renewable energy with flexible loads in industrial companies, and the current Interreg NWE RegEnergy project is developing smart energy cluster technology for industrial and commercial sites. Sustainability Dingle will build on these results and assess how Energy Communities can be expanded from micro up to regional level.

Energy Communities can be a mechanism to empower local citizens and businesses to become prosumers and actively take control of their energy profiles and collectively integrate distributed energy to maximise their self-sustainability. Energy Communities, where renewable energy technologies are implemented locally, can be sustainably balanced using mechanisms such as peer to peer trading, demand side management, load shifting and battery storage.

Speaking of the importance of the project, Sean Lyons, Energy Technical Lead at the Walton Institute said: “Sustainability Dingle will deliver a sustainability model which can maximise a regions balance of its load with locally integrated renewable energy technology within Energy Communities. In this way, local communities can play a central role in reducing their carbon footprint and maximising their sustainability.”

The Sustainability Dingle project will work with a number of local collaborators in the Dingle area, who together have the technical expertise and local knowledge to realise the project objectives. Údarás na Gaeltachta have industrial and commercial sites with various energy loads and the potential to integrate renewables to form the centre of Energy Communities. The Dingle Creativity and Innovation Hub aim to build a sustainable community fostering an ecosystem to facilitate the creation of diverse employment, entrepreneurship and businesses. The Corca Dhuibhne Community Energy group is a voluntary organisation which supports energy transition projects. 

The project commenced in March 2022 and will run for a 2-year period. The team look forward to exploring the sustainability levels that can be achieved in a region using renewable technologies and mechanisms.