Distant Irish islands work together in new green hydrogen energy strategy

Distant Irish islands work together in new green hydrogen energy strategy

May 27, 2020 0 By John Max
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The islands are located on opposite ends of Ireland and are moving ahead despite COVID-19 challenges.

Two islands located on opposite sides of Ireland have been efficiently moving forward on a joint green hydrogen energy strategy.

Valentia Island and Rathlin Island teamed up for the next decade on the renewable power project.

The islands are working together in pursuit of a green hydrogen energy strategy that includes ferries that run on renewable fuel. Both islands are focused on H2 as the renewable fuel source to power their plan. The islands will also use this project to fuel local business and boost employment in both locations. Even amidst the economic struggles from COVID-19, the islands are using this H2 plan to keep their communities strong.

Rathlin Development and Community Association Chairperson, Michael Cecil feels his island is prepared for the challenges the pandemic has brought to their economy.

The green hydrogen energy strategy has the potential to support the islands post-lockdown.

“All small and medium islands suffer from energy poverty as traditionally most have no means of producing energy or fuel, this leads to a reliance on transporting everything using very inefficient methods. During periods of bad weather, ferry downtime or even the current COVID-19 lockdown transportation becomes even more difficult – all leading to insecurity of supply,” said Cecil.

The H2 plan will help to avoid the risk of returning to pre-coronavirus habits that were “damaging to our planet,” he added, particularly when it comes to travel and energy.

The two islands are developing new plans to become hydrogen-based economies to complement their tourism sectors, on which they are highly dependent.

“A recent study by PWC showed that Kerry is the county that has had the biggest impact on tourism due to the COVID crisis. This is one of the reasons we are looking to develop a hydrogen based economy so that we can create employment opportunities in Valentia that enable us to diversify away from tourism type employment,” said Colum O Connell, Valentia Energy Group chairperson.

Rathlin Island intends to use this green hydrogen energy strategy as a major component of its goal to become carbon neutrality.

Green hydrogen energy strategy - Valentia

from left to right, Caroline Daly, Valentia Community Energy Group, Professor James Carton, DCU, Elizabeth Johnson, Pure Energy Centre, Scotland, Colum O Connell, Valentia Island Community Energy Group, Duncan Stewart, Eco Eye tv presenter, Dr Rory Monaghan, NUIG, GenComm partner, Cormac Walsh, Energy Co Operatives Ireland and Lugh O Braonain, Energy Co Operatives, Ireland.

On Valentia, the goal is also decarbonization through the green hydrogen energy strategy. That island formally registered its Valentia Energy Co-Operative in January, with progressive goals toward carbon footprint reduction. The heart of that island’s plan has to do with residential heating systems, which can transition to hydrogen from having been 40 percent oil or gas, and 20 percent turf or coal. The island’s ferry service will also be replaced with an H2 powered vessel.