Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Sustainable Energy Communities
7. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of sustainable energy communities which have been formed to date; the scale of energy improvement investments which have been facilitated by such communities; and if he has plans to enhance the scope for such initiatives under the Climate Action Plan. [59579/21]
The Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC) Programme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. The Programme supports the low carbon energy transition by developing skills and capacity, at a community level, in determing how to use less energy, adopting lower carbon options for transport and heating, shifting energy use to off-peak times or investing in smart technologies. The SEC process of learning consists of 3 core steps of Learn (the SEC Network), Plan (the Energy Master Plan partnership) and the Do stage. Under this latter stage, the SECs access the various SEAI energy efficiency grants, notably the Community Energy Grant Scheme, to help them progress their identified projects.
The Community Energy Grant Scheme supports support cross-sectoral, partnership approaches that deliver energy savings to a range of building types including public, commercial and community buildings with a particular focus on using the projects to deliver home retrofits. Furthermore, the Scheme is designed to engage all members of the SEC network who wish to participate in delivery of energy efficiency works. The 2021 budget for the Community Energy Grant Scheme is €30 million, a €10 million increase on the allocation in 2020.
There are currently 600 SEC members in the network, of which 110 joined in 2021. Under the Programme, a total of 176 Energy Master Plans have been submitted to the SEAI, of which 50 were submitted in 2021. There are a total of 62 SECs at the Do stage.
The National Retrofit Plan which was launched recently as part of the Climate Action Plan 2021, sets a target of 1,500 member communities in the SEC Network by 2030. Under the Plan, SECs will be supported by Government to continue and expand their roles as ‘activators’ in their community.
Details of the organisations and communities involved in the SEC Programme can be found on SEAI’s website www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/community-projects/sustainable-energy-communities/.