Mid West Region To Develop Sustainable Energy Policy

Fresh moves are being made to further enhance the Mid West Region's status as a sustainable energy region.

June 20, 2012 The Mid West Regional Authority has been allocated 180,000 euro, as part of the European STEP Project, which is focused on the improvement of sustainable energy policy in the Local Government sector.

Managed by the EU INTERREG IVC and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the three-year project will see the MWRA updating its existing Regional Biomass Strategy and the Regional Climate Change Strategy to combine them into one Sustainable Energy Strategy for the region.

It is anticipated that the new Strategy will guide renewable energy development and good practice in North Tipperary, Clare and Limerick.

According to Deirdre Byrne, EU Projects Officer with the MWRA: "The main objectives of the STEP project are to create a set of regional good practices that may help to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, to increase the amount of renewable energy generated and consumed in North Tipperary, Clare and Limerick, and to boost the implementation of policies that may contribute to achieving the EU objectives 20-20-20. We will be working with our European partner regions to identify problems and develop good practice guides to improve local sustainable energy policy tools."

The MWRA has eight partners from six European countries: "STRIA" South Transdanubian Regional Innovation Agency Non-for-profit Ltd (Hungary); Kainuun Etu Ltd (Finland); Saxon Energy Agency (Germany); the Energy Management Agency from Murcia (Spain); the Environmental Development Company from Aragon (Spain); Arleg S.S. Regional Development Agency (Poland); Midland Regional Authority (Ireland) and the Local Government of Mohács (Hungary).

"The STEP project is focussed on sharing knowledge between European regions. So, we will be highlighting and promoting the existing good practices within the Mid-West among the other EU regional partners," Ms. Byrne explained.

She continued: "We will be sharing the knowledge and experience of The Cloughjordan Eco-village, Clare County Hall as a sustainable public building heated by biomass, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre as a sustainable energy efficient building, North Tipperary County Council's internal energy savings of 33% since 2008, and the replacing of older houses with new energy efficient houses in the coming years under the Limerick Regeneration projects."

Ms. Byrne said the project is one way in which the MWRA is tackling the problem of how best to ensure that the EU's Renewable Energy Directive is implemented at a regional and local level.

The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) published by the Govt in 2010, sets out the commitment of the Government to meet the target of 16% of Ireland's overall energy share from renewable sources by 2020. In 2010, the contribution of renewables to Ireland's energy mix was 5.5%.

Ms. Byrne commented: "There is a long way to go and it is recognised that this target will only be achieved through a sustained effort and focus at local and regional level."

"Through participation in STEP, the MWRA aims to learn as much as possible from the other EU regional partners about their best practices in local sustainable energy projects. Particularly advantageous will be the opportunity to learn from the Finnish and German partners who are very advanced in the development of local sustainable energy projects. The MWRA will be focusing on the areas of local Sustainable Energy Action Plans for rural areas and looking at innovative financing options for boosting local sustainable energy investments," Ms. Byrne concluded.

For further information, please contact Deirdre Byrne or Linda Newport, EU Project Officers with the Mid-West Regional Authority (Tel: 067-33197, Email: info@mwra.ie).

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