RASLRES – Developing Renewable Energy Solutions for Rural Areas

 The search for sustainable, environmental, energy sources has been the subject of intensive study over the last decade. Provision of reasonably priced, secure, safe and clean energy is a fundamental driving force for economic growth and competitiveness, and maintenance of quality living standards. The development and employment of renewable natural resources as fuel sources is of strategic importance to countries in managing fuel resources for future generations.

Earlier today, Minister Tony Killeen T.D., launched the RASLRES bio energy project which examines and pilots a number of approaches to address the many barriers towards renewable energy deployment in rural areas. Its proposed solutions include new co-operative partnerships between suppliers and producers of renewable fuels and end users or consumers via researching and piloting specific initiatives: enhancing the role and influence of public sector bodies through policy reform, finding sustainable commercial solutions for both end user and suppliers / processors and developing advisory service programs to enable participants to acquire the skills necessary to implement and drive market developments.

Speaking today at the RASLRES launch, Christopher Parker, secretariat of the Northern Periphery Programme stated, “The programme monitoring committee are delighted to support RASLRES as a strategic project within the NPP region. RASLRES is a renewable energy project which helps the NPP address priority issues, such as, developing new enterprise opportunities and the sustainability of rural communities. We anticipate that RASLRES will result in lasting change for the participating communities, individual businesses and across the wider NPP region. In turn it will provide the NPP with a model for continued growth and development of the renewable energy sector across the NPP region.”

WHAT IS RASLRES?

RASLRES is a multi-national European bio-energy project, funded by the Northern Periphery Programme, which uses local resources and local people to provide a complete solution for renewable energy through a range of renewable energy technologies and biomass fuels including wood, reed canary grass and marine biomass. The main objective of the project is to increase the deployment and uptake of locally produced renewable energy solutions in the NPP area.

RASLRES is an international partnership led by the Western Development Commission, Ireland with partners: Action Renewables, Northern Ireland, UK; Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College, Scotland; Municipality of Norsjö, Sweden; Oceanrainforest Ltd, Faroe Islands and VTT, Technical Research Centre, Finland.

Over the duration of the project RASLRES will:

  • Establish wood fuels and marine biomass as viable alternative to fossil fuels, by making them a real cost competitive alternative in the NPP area
  • Build awareness of opportunities for rural communities to produce and supply locally produced biomass (wood, seaweed and energy crops) to towns and cities
  • Provide business development support to rural biomass producing communities
  • Develop biomass supply chains through direct business and community engagement
  • Develop a transnational exchange of knowledge, expertise, technology and methodologies for the development of renewable energy sources in the Northern Periphery area
  • Develop best practice business models which will stimulate growth in the renewable energy sector across partner regions
  • Promote independence and sustainability within rural areas to create local jobs for future generations
  • Assist Governments reach their targets for reducing CO2 emissions

PROJECT IMPACT

The RASLRES project has the potential to achieve the following economic impact in the western region of Ireland by the year 2020, through renewable energy production:

  • Renewable energy (from wood) will provide 11% of the region’s heat market needs by 2020
  • This will have a knock on impact of increasing the regional income by €15 million per annum
  • 900 jobs will be created within the wood energy sector and associated businesses in the supply chain model
  • Ireland will achieve CO2 savings of 619,000 tonnes per annum

Speaking earlier today at the project launch, Ian Brannigan, Regional Development Manager WDC and RASLRES Project Lead commented; “The WDC is delighted to be leading the RASLRES project which goes to the heart of the local community by using local resources and local people to provide a complete solution for renewable energy. The project will stimulate growth in the renewable energy sector, which will benefit local communities by promoting their independence and sustainability and creating local jobs for future generations.”

Brannigan went on to state, “We are delighted with the progress to date with our pilots which develop best practice business models to stimulate growth in the renewable energy sector not only in Ireland but also across the partner regions.” Brannigan concluded.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Ian Brannigan
Regional Development Manager
Western Development Commission
Tel: +353 (0)94 9861893
Mobile: +353 (0)86 6048012
Email: ianbrannigan@wdc.ie