West Of Ireland Partnership engages Public Sector in Development of Renewable Heat Market

The public sector is well positioned to support the renewable energy market through policy frameworks, energy projects and public procurement of renewable energies.

On the 8th March the Western Development Commission (WDC) under the EU RASLRES project and working in partnership with the Limerick Clare Energy Agency met with County Managers and Directors of Services from across the eight local authorities of the Western Region and other relevant agencies to discuss the role of the public sector in developing the renewable heat market.

This workshop entitled: Developing Local Economies through Public Sector Procurement, was designed to inform the public sector on new areas for action to drive local economic growth through the bioenergy market in the West of Ireland.

Chaired by Tom Coughlan, Clare County Manager, the event was significant in terms of the representation from each county and demonstrates the recognition of the importance of renewable energies in the western region.

Also in attendance were representatives from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Irish Bioenergy Association, Shannon Development, and the Clare Local Development Company. The workshop examined models and actions for public sector leadership and procurement in the renewable heat sector and facilitated discussion with industry experts from the Swedish Biofuel Region project and the RASLRES consultancy team. The Swedish element of the workshop profiled the regional development benefits from a growing renewable energy sector and outlined how the Swedish public sector participated in, and created conditions for, development of renewable energies.

Speaking at the workshop Bernadette Phelan, WDC commented; ‘During the workshop agreement was reached that a dynamic biomass heat energy sector results in strong local economic growth and job creation, increased regional competitiveness, enhanced energy independence and reduced CO2 emissions. Furthermore, public procurement was acknowledged as a means for the public sector to drive the uptake of renewable heat and provide public leadership to economic development. Through the RASLRES project the WDC will continue to work collaboratively with local authorities and other agencies to promote and develop strategies and initiatives for the bioenergy sector.’




The renewable energy targets in the western region impact significantly on regional competitiveness as the region has a high dependency on oil and limited access to the gas network. Energy prices, security and quality play a central role in maintaining regional competitiveness. Correspondingly the switch to renewable energy generation represents a major economic opportunity for the region. A critical characteristic of bioenergy, including the wood energy sector, is that the market consists of ‘local loops’ of demand and supply in defined geographic areas which typically:

  • have a high level of indigenous small – to -medium enterprises e.g. engineers, plumbing, forestry contractors and thereby retain a high percentage of profits in the local and regional economies
  • are firmly embedded and tied to the regional economy in which the natural resource (fuel) and market is located


RASLRES is a €3 million European bio-energy project which seeks to grow the number of local businesses involved in the sector and is led by the Western Development Commission (WDC), Ireland with partners in Sweden, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands and Finland. RASLRES is funded by the INTERREG IVB – Northern Periphery Programme. The RASLRES project will:

  • 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
  • development of biomass supply chains through direct business and community engagement
  • RASLRES is an international partnership which includes:

• Western Development Commission – Ireland

• Action Renewables – Northern Ireland, UK

• Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College – Scotland

• Municipality of Norsjö – Sweden

• Oceanrainforest Ltd – Faroe Islands

VTT, Technical Research Centre – Finland

RASLRES will conclude with a showcase of the outputs from all partner regions in December 2012. Further details on the RASLRES project are available on www.raslres.eu


Bernadette Phelan
Regional Development Executive
Western Development Commission
Tel: +353 (0)94 9861893
Mobile: +353 (0)86 8340279

Email: bernadettephelan@wdc.ie