Claremorris and Western District Energy Co-Operative

October 3, 2018

In your own words, tell us about your project.
Claremorris and Western District Energy Co-Operative was founded in 2015 by a number of Claremorris people. Located on the Ballyhaunis Road, the Co-Op was founded to develop community owned renewable energy, supporting communities and addressing climate change in the West of Ireland. With over 50 members, the Co-op are currently engaged on a voluntary basis to support the Claremorris community and other communities in the transition to the low carbon economy, while contributing to national policy.

In 2016, the Co-Op won the Innovation award with Gas Networks. The project which is still on-going, promotes and accommodate an environment of innovation in the renewable industry. Working with Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) and the Renewable Gas Forum (RGFI), the Co-Op promoted renewable gas generation and the benefits to the agricultural, domestic and commercial sectors while illustrating the positive contribution to climate change. The Co-Op to visited over 45 groups ranging from schools, public and private organisations over the last 2 years, including demonstrating the benefits of community owned renewable energy at the ploughing championships highlighting the impact of climate change. The co-op are actively involved in three Interreg projects, GENCOMM (development of sites using different resources (wind, solar PV, biogas) incorporating hydrogen storage, and transformation to different end products (fuel for fuel cell vehicles, electricity, biomethane). GREBE (develop renewable energy (RE) business opportunities provided by extreme conditions) and Community-based Virtual Power Plant (cVPP)’. A model of radical decarbonisation based on empowerment of low-carbon community driven energy initiatives.

In 2018, the Co-Op developed a cost-effective solution allowing the Co-Operative to update on a daily basis the community energy usage through 3D technology. It presents a visual impact on the communities carbon footprint, supporting potential for community initiatives. The co-op have openly agreed to offer
Why did you do this work?
The Co-Op believe we can become self-sufficient through the use of renewable energy technologies including energy crops, solar, wind energy etc. We believe communities should be empowered and take responsibility. The key barrier to entry for any voluntary group is access to information and funding. Empowering knowledge, opens the mind to new and exciting opportunities which in turn pushes the door open to confidently raising funding. Immediately socio-economic benefits to be seen by the communities who then push on to achieve their goals.

By the fact we are now involved in European led programmes developing technologies for the future, national based initiatives, building capabilities to develop self-sustainable capabilities and local development, we can confidently engage with communities from local schools to societies etc . In the face of adversity, the co-operative has succeeded to help communities question the future use of fossil fuels and the possible transition to a cleaner, greener and renewable future. But what stands out further, is the willingness of the co-operative to work and support other communities through its "learning by doing" philosophy.

The Co-Operative have excelled in building a credible and innovative group in the West of Ireland to promote the transition to renewable energy. The individuals involved not only invested their time but also initially gave their own funds to get the entity up and running. Our ability to work with groups such as the SEAI, GNI, Clan Credo, GMIT, NUIG, Mayo County Council, LEO, Tipperary Energy, and beyond highlights the long term commitment to our community. It amazing to see the group grow.
What was the impact or outcome of your project?
On one of our school visits, we were honoured to have Friends of the Earth and Duncan Steward join us. The impact of seeing young children proceed to inform Duncan on the potential uses of organic waste was invigorating. Their willingness to engage and learn was wonderful.

On one of our voluntary community visits, actively promoting Sustainable Energy Communities. A one hour planned visit turned into a four hour, seven cups of tea, discussion on the possibilities of doing something positive for generations to come. I

Presenting the impact of communities taking ownership and responsibility for our own energy usage to the Renewable Gas Forum Ireland, who represent over 200 commercial and industrial companies from Glanbia to Diageo, we were asked to return and join the board of directors. Our role is to help educate and involve communities in the development of renewable gas for communities. We are now working with the larger industries supporting groups such as the RGFI but also expanding our abilities to support groups like the farming community.

When we started the co-operative, the general perception of the co-op was a group doing nothing for the sake of nothing. However as time moved on and with projects such as our 3D projects, our involvement in European based research, our goals to reduce our carbon footprint for the good of generations to come, we are now considered as a Energy Co-Operative doing something for the good of our home town Claremorris. We still have a long way to go and many climate change doubters to convince but baby steps have progressed to toddler steps.

“Don’t fear failure, fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today”.
Do you have any tips or advice for similar projects?
Believe in what you represent, believe in your team, believe you can make a difference, lean on other groups for support and most importantly make a difference.

The vision and sheer determination to build any progressive community group in Ireland, can never be underestimated.
Location of Project
Claremorris, Co. Mayo
Contact Person
JP Prendergast
Email Address
Contact Number