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Aran Islands Aims for Own Microgrid in Offshore Renewable Energy Project (PODCAST)

4th February 2021
The Aran islands energy co-op is “campaigning hard” to ensure local communities will have a central role in future energy generation The Aran islands energy co-op is “campaigning hard” to ensure local communities will have a central role in future energy generation

The Government’s ambitious plans for renewable energy off the Atlantic coast should involve communities as active stakeholders and not just recipients of compensation, an island energy co-op has said.

Dara Ó Maoildhia, chairman of Comharchumann Fuinneamh Oileáin Árann, the Aran islands energy co-op, says his group is “campaigning hard” to ensure local communities will have a central role.

“One of our main ambitions is that the three Aran islands will have their own microgrid,” he told this week’s Wavelengths podcast.

Dara Ó Maoildhia, chairman of Comharchumann Fuinneamh Oileáin Árann, the Aran islands energy co-opDara Ó Maoildhia, chairman of Comharchumann Fuinneamh Oileáin Árann, the Aran islands energy co-op. Screenshot courtesy: Comharchumann Fuinneamh Oileáin Árann 

The co-op is also collaborating in research on hydrogen energy, which may have applications for island ferries as well as businesses, transport and residences.

A consortium of islands led by Kerry’s Valentia Island Co-op and Rathlin, Co Antrim has been examining the feasibility of combining offshore wind with electrolyser technology to convert water to hydrogen.

Meanwhile, researchers at the NUIG Ryan Institute Energy Research Institute are also collaborating in a five-year project that will generate, distribute and use at least 300 tonnes of hydrogen per year produced from solar energy on the Balearic island of Mallorca.

Dr Thomas van Rensburg of NUI GalwayDr Thomas van Rensburg

The NUIG team in the Green Hyslands project involves Dr Pau Farràs Costa, Dr Rory Monaghan and Dr Thomas van Rensburg, and they say it will reduce CO2 emissions by 20,000 tonnes per year.

The NUIG team will assess the economic impacts of the green hydrogen on Mallorca, as well as on other island communities involved in the project, including the Aran Islands. 

Dr van Rensburg also spoke to Wavelengths and you can listen below

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...