Minister Bruton opens Community Energy Upgrade Scheme.

Funding to be ring-fenced from SEAI programmes in 2020 for group retrofits to scale up community climate action.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton T.D., today (Monday the 16th of December 2019) announced a total of €20 million funding for community energy upgrades in 2020. The Minister also announced that funding from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) programmes in 2020 will be ring-fenced to deliver group retrofits to scale up climate action in communities.

Minister Bruton said:

“To achieve the goals set in the Climate Action Plan we must quickly step up the reach of our programmes from around 22,000 homes per year to 50,000 and encourage people to make more profound shifts in how they heat their homes. This can only be done if we start to bundle work so large numbers act together.

“In 2020, we shall be ring-fencing monies from SEAI programmes to scale up the climate transition in communities. This means homes with different needs and different opportunities have the chance to group together to make their homes climate resilient for themselves, for their children and for the wider world.

“In the first of the incentives under this new approach, I am today announcing that €4 million of the 2020 funding for the SEAI community grant scheme will be ring-fenced and used to specifically target  housing retrofit projects, which will deliver retrofits grouping home upgrades together, making it easier and cheaper to upgrade your home.”

Since 2012, the SEAI community grant scheme has supported over 400 community energy efficiency projects, resulting in 18,200 homes, and over 2,500 community, public and private buildings being upgraded.  The €145 million invested to date has leveraged over €370 million overall investment in communities across the country with annual energy savings estimated to be over €65 million. 

Applicants for the new housing retrofit project strand will be able to apply early in the New Year but all other projects can apply from today. All successful applicants will have a strong partnership approach and will see communities working together to deliver the proposed project.

Minister Bruton said:

“Community partnerships are the focus of this Scheme and are crucial to delivering on our objectives as set out in the Climate Action Plan. We need to see coalitions of change built locally between the public and private sectors, residential and non-residential sectors, commercial and not-for-profit organisations. This builds on the work of the more than 320 energy communities in SEAI’s community network who are working towards longer term sustainable energy plans for their local areas.”

The government are currently designing a new retrofitting model as part of the commitment to upgrade 500,000 homes to B2 by 2030. This new model will:

  • Group homes in the same area together to drive down cost
  • Start with social homes owned by the local authorities, but will embrace privately owned homes in the wider community
  • Introduce easy pay back models (e.g. through your utility bill)
  • Develop smart finance (e.g. loan guarantee models, European investment bank)

The grants will be administered by SEAI. Speaking today, Mr William Walsh, CEO of SEAI said:

The Government’s Climate Action Plan recognises the central role of communities in achieving our climate action ambitions. SEAI is working with hundreds of energy communities across the country, providing them with the knowledge and the means to both plan their own ambitious low carbon pathway. Government funded grants are a key support for communities ready to invest in sustainable energy solutions to meet their needs. The achievements of these communities can be replicated, drawing more citizens into Ireland’s clean energy transition.”

Open to both large and small projects alike, the application process is non-competitive with qualifying applications approved on a first come first served basis. Full details of the scheme, including how to apply are available at www.seai.ie

The Climate Action Plan, published in June of this year, is the Government’s plan to give Irish people a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future. The Plan sets out actions across every sector which will ensure we meet our future climate commitments.