SEI launch wave energy monitoring buoy

The Ocean Energy Development Unit (OEDU) of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) launched a buoy off the north coast of Mayo last week in order to monitor wave and weather conditions in the area. The information collected will aid the development of a wave energy test site in the area.

The ready supply of powerful waves on the Atlantic along the west coast has the potential to supply substantial amount of wave energy in Ireland. As well as reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions, creating wave energy would also reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Adult Learners' Festival

The Adult Learners’ Festival is taking place all of this week, from February 22nd-26th, with over 250 events taking place all across Ireland. A Green Learning Day will be incorporated as part of the festival and will highlight the importance of sustainable everyday living. Different events for Green Learning Day will focus on calculating your carbon footprint, sustainable transport, environmentally friendly gardening and energy saver quizzes.

Please see the Adult Learners' Festival website for further details.

Winners of the eGovernment Awards 2010

On February 19th, the winners of Ireland’s eGoverment Awards 2010 were announced at Dublin Castle. These awards began in 2002 and aim to recognise standards of excellence in Irish eGovernment services.

The National Concert Hall won the People’s Choice Award, while the Overall Winner for 2010 was the Local Government Management Agency for its Non Principal Private Residence Online Payments Service.

  A list of the winners from each category is available on the eGovernment Awards website.

High technology environmental sensors

On Friday 12th February the next generation of high technology environmental sensors were unveiled at the Beaufort Workshop that was held at Dublin City University (DCU). These environmental sensors were developed to transmit real-time information on pollution, pathogens and toxic algal blooms occurring in freshwater as well as marine environments.

The sensors were submitted as a project under the Beaufort Marine Research Awards by the National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR), which is based in DCU.

Study shows rapid rate of ocean acidification

A study by scientists from the University of Bristol published in Nature Genetics journal in February 2010 concludes that the rate of ocean acidification today is an estimated 10 times faster than it was 55 million years ago (the last time the ocean became so acidic).

Carbon dioxide absorbs into the ocean surface and creates carbonic acid. With the huge increase in carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere in the modern world, ocean acidification is also on the rise. This increase in acidity could have huge consequences for ocean life. It caused mass extinction 55 million years ago and it is feared that if ocean acidity continues to rise, many areas could become uninhabitable for different forms of marine life.

Bee fungus in Northern Ireland

Scientists from Belfast’s Agri-Food and Biosciences Institution (AFBI) have issued a warning to beekeepers about the arrival of the lethal fungus nosema ceranae. The same disease occured in Dublin in 2008, and has more recently killed large numbers of honeybees in Spain causing Colony Collapse Disorder.

So far, the disease has been confirmed in four different colonies in Northern Ireland and Scientists are asking beekeepers to be vigilant against it.

Red squirrels growing stronger in Scotland

The group Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) have reported that red squirrels are experiencing a revival after years of declining numbers. Following the introduction of the grey squirrel to Scotland during the 19th century, the red squirrel population fell dramatically as the grey squirrel gained foothold. The greys out-compete the reds for food and territory, as well as carrying a virus that is fatal to reds.

However, the SSRS have been working to stop the spread of a virus that only affects the red squirrels, and have also been working to control grey squirrel populations. Red squirrel are now regularly spotted in Aberdeen, where they have not inhabited for many years.

The red squirrel is one of the species identified for conservation under the United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan.

UN Climate Chief resigns

The executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Yvo de Boer has announced his resignation from his position at the UN. This will take effect from July 1st 2010, just five months before the world’s nations meet in Mexico in an attempt to secure a global deal on climate change. This meeting follows a failed attempt to reach an agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference that took place in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Yvo de Boer will take up a new position with KPMG consultancy group as ‘global advisor on climate and sustainability’.

Green Plans for Commonwealth Games 2010

Organisers of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Dehli have announced that a series of green measures will be taken to improve the city’s environment for the upcoming event, and to initiate a long-term low carbon, green economy for India.

These measures, or ‘New Ecological Codes’, were launched on February 17th by the organisers and are also being promoted by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). They will present guidelines on conserving biodiversity, effective waste management, energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and reduced pollution. The first step in prioritising environmental issues was taken by event organisers in October 2009, when 3,000 saplings were planted at the launch of the first city forest in Aaya Nagar.

Cré Training Course

Cré, the Composting Association of Ireland Teo, will host a training course on the Food Waste Regulations & EPA Municipal Solid Waste Pre-Treatment & Residuals Management on Wednesday 3rd March at the Heritage Golf & Spa Resort Killenard, Portlaoise.

The Food Waste Regulations were introduced by Minister for the Environment, Mr John Gormley TD, in December 2009. The aim of the regulations is to promote the segregation and recovery of food in the commercial sector.

For further information and course details, please see the Cré website.

New RTÉ science adventure show

RTÉ Two The Den is producing a new series that combines science, action, logic, strategy and explosions!  

The series is looking for teams of three children aged between 10 and 12 years to apply to take part. 

To get more information about how you can apply please go to www.rte.ie/theden and click on Apply for The Mountain.

Or contact Aoife O’Reilly at aoife.oreilly@rte.ie.

Hurry, the deadline for applications is Friday March 5th 2010.

Wind farm approval for Co. Antrim

Plans to develop a new wind farm at Carn Hill, Newtownabbey in Co Antrim have been approved.   The wind farm will be constructed by Gaelectric, an Irish renewable energy company. It will consist of six wind turbines and is expected to generate enough electricity to supply 8,000 homes.

It is also anticipated that up to 30 construction jobs will be created to complete the wind farm.

New developments in electric cars

Research funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) has lead to the development of an electric car that allows excess power to be sold back to the electricity grid. However, the ultimate goal of the research is to develop “plug-in hybrid electric vehicles” that can use the national grid to meet their own power needs as well as selling electricity back to the grid that has been generated from renewable sources such as the sun or wind.

The research was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual conference that is taking place from 18th-22nd February.

New Research by EPA

On February 18th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published new research outlining potential waste generation and carbon emissions for Ireland based on economic forecasts.

The research was conducted using the ISus (Irish Sustainable Development) Model, developed by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).   ISus covers over 25 potential pollutants from various economic sectors.

The report found that Ireland faces considerable challenges in achieving its greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 and staying within EU limits of landfill waste.

The full report on Ireland’s Sustainable Development Model is available for download from the EPA website.

Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme launched

Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) has today (February 18th) launched the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) Scheme at the IrBEA/Teagasc Annual Conference at the Tipperary Institute. This scheme will certify organisations involved in the manufacture and supply of wood fuel made from clean wood, ensuring the production of sustainable wood fuel.

Applications to participate in the scheme are currently being accepted. Further information on the application process is available on www.wfqa.org, which will go live on February 18th. Alternatively, please send any queries by email to wfqaenquiries@wfqa.org.

European Energy Saving Award (EESA)

The European Energy Saving Award (EESA) is a new environmental award that is open to all secondary schools in Ireland as well as other European countries. The awards have two stages: the National Award, which will take place in June 2010, and the European Award, which will take place in October 2010.

There are three categories of awards, all with a focus on reduced energy consumption: Schools; Individual Student/Group; Videos/Multimedia. The national winners of each of these three categories will be entered into the European Award for the same categories.

The National Award for Ireland is being implemented by the Clean Technology Centre (CTC), Cork Institute of Technology and is sponsored by Bord Gáis. The first submission dates for applications is March 15th 2010 and an information leaflet outlining further application details is available for download from the CTC website.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice - Kerry

Kerry County Council has issued a precautionary Boil Water Notice for customers of the Breanlee Water Supply, which is at risk of contamination. The following is a list of townlands that are affected: Breanlee; Glancuttaun; Shanera; Ownagarry; Groin; Ardmoniel; Farrantooreen; Glannagillagh.

The Boil Water Notice is in place until further notice. Please contact Kerry County Council for further information at 087-2324108, or check the council website for further updates.


Marks & Spencer sign ‘green deal’ in Ireland

Marks & Spencer has taken steps to make its Irish businesses more sustainable by signing a new ‘green power’ deal with renewable energy provider Energie. The three year contract will take effect from April 2010 and is a major step in the company’s aim to supply 100% renewable electricity for all its premises in Ireland.

Energia will supply electricity to Marks & Spencer that has been generated from a range of wind farms, as well as a number of small-scale, local generators of renewable energy.    

Approved Funding for BurrenLIFE Project

Funding for an agri-environmental “blueprint” that was developed by the BurrenLIFE Project has been approved by the Government.   The BurrenLIFE Project, a major farming conservation project in Ireland, will receive €3 million to help support over 100 farms in the unique karts landscape of the Burren.

The project aims to ensure sustainable agricultural management in the Burren region in order to conserve the unique habitats of the area.

Further information on the BurrenLIFE Project is available at http://www.burrenlife.com/.

Met Éireann figures on unprecedented rainfall of 2009

Met Éireann have released new figures which indicate that the unprecedented rainfall experienced in many parts of the county in November 2009, should usually only occur once every 500 years.

During November 2009, parts of Galway, Clare, Laois, Kerry and Tipperary experienced rainfall that was almost four times the average level.   While it appears that Ireland’s weather patterns are altering due to climate change, Met Éireann have said that further research will need to be undertaken before any firm conclusions can be reached. It is hoped that the effects of climate change on Ireland’s weather will be clearer in another two years.

New EU Organic Logo

A new European Union (EU) Organic Logo has been selected following an EU-wide competition. Over 3,420 designers submitted entries and following a public online vote, the winning logo was announced on February 8th, 2010.

The new logo uses the EU stars to outline the shape of a leaf, signifiying the association between Europe and Nature. This “Euro-leaf” logo was designed by German student Dusan Milenkovic. From July 2010, it will be compulsory for the “Euro-leaf” to be displayed on all pre-packed organic products that are produced in each of the 27 Member States. It will be optional to display it on imported products.

The aim of this new logo is to promote organic farming as well as improve consumer protection.

New Guide to Community Gardening

The Environmental Focus Group of the Dublin City Community Forum has produced a new publication entitled The Dublin City Guide to Organic Gardening.

This new guide provides plenty of practical tips and useful information for those interested in becoming involved or seeking to set up their own community garden.   It also outlines the history and development of community gardening in Dublin, a pastime that is becoming increasingly popular.

The guide is available to download for free from the Dublin Community Forum website.

Green Innovation: Biodegradable iPhone cover

A Dublin-based consumer electronics company, Jivo, has developed a biodegradable iPhone cover using a mixture of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) polymer and ordinary polymers. The new ‘Leaf’ iPhone cover will biodegrade within five years of disposal and is the first of its kind in the world.

The ‘Leaf’ cover will go on sale in O2 stores across Ireland in March and Jivo plan to start exporting worldwide over the course of the coming months.

Making plastic biodegrabable

Bioplastech, an Irish company that was set up in 2009, has developed technology that can turn used plastic into a new biodegradable plastic product. This is achieved by using a combination of chemistry to break down the plastic and bacteria to convert it into a biodegradable polymer. The company is currently seeking funding to build a refining plant in Ireland and should it be successful, it would help to push Ireland towards achieving a green economy.

New Energy Technologies Research in Ireland

ESB Networks and the United States (US) Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have formed a three-year partnership to further research into new energy technologies. Ireland will become a “test bed” as the ESB runs demonstrations of projects in various green energy areas, such as wind energy, smart metering, and green electricity networks.

The ESB is the first host partner of EPRI outside the US, and the Irish electricity company hopes that the partnership will help develop a smart, green economy in Ireland.  

Introduction of New Bioenergy Scheme

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith TD, has announced that a new Bioenergy Scheme will be set up to support the planting of miscanthus and willow bioenergy crops between 2010 and 2012.

Since 2007, the Bioenergy Scheme has been running on a pilot basis and has contributed towards the planting of 2,500 hectares of bioenergy crops.   The new scheme will provide €1 million grant aid to support planting a further 1,000 hectares in 2010, which will cover 50% of the cost involved for the participating farmers.

The closing date for grant applications for farmers is Wednesday March 31st 2010. Further information and application forms are available at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmingsectors/crops/bioenergyscheme/.

New Agreement for Certification in the Organic Sector

On February 11th, a new agreement was signed between the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Global Trust Certification Ltd. (GTC). This will allow the company to manage controls in the Organic Sector, such as certifying and inspecting producers and processors, on behalf of the Department.

Green Certification Scheme for British Energy Suppliers

A new labelling scheme has been launched in Britain to certify electricity that has been produced in an environmentally-friendly manner. This will inform consumers which companies supply green energy and will encourage them to cut their carbon emissions.

Nanotechnology to Improve Engine Efficiency and Cut Costs

A new nanotechnology product will enable any machine, from the smallest car to the largest marine engine, to operate more efficiently and reduce carbon emissions.

This new product is a nano ‘smart coating’ that is added to the gear box or engine of the machine. Nanoland assert that the application of this coating will result in an average 11% reduction in fuel and oil consumption as well as a 60% reduction in emissions. The product also helps to prevent wear of engine metal, giving it an extended life.

Energy Bill 2010

On February 10th, Minister for Energy Mr Eamon Ryan T.D. introducted the Energy Bill 2010 to the Seanad. This new biofuels law will require fuel suppliers to ensure that 4% of their supplies are biofuels from July 2010. The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) will administer the scheme.

Under the Energy Bill, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) will be given further powers on the safety of liquifies natural gas projects.

ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards 2010

The closing date for applications for ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards 2010 is February 26th. Young people aged between 12 and 18 are invited to submit entries based on an environmental action project with their youth club or school.

Participants of the competition will be given the opportunity to showcase their project at the National Showcase and Awards Ceremony in May. For further information, please see the ECO-UNESCO website www.ecounesco.ie.

New Water Research Facility in Galway

On February 8th, a new NUI Galway Water Research Facility was officially opened by Minister for Housing & Local Services Mr. Michael Finneran, T.D..

The Water Research Facility is ideally located at the Tuam Waste Water Treatment Plant and a number of research projects on green technologies are already in progress. It is one of the few facilities in Europe that permits researchers to experiment in realistic conditions.

The facility was funded primarily by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the STRIVE Research Programme, as well as NUI Galway.

Irish company signs wave energy deal

A new deal has been signed between Ocean Energy, an Irish wave energy development company, and United States (US) company Dresser-Rand.

The deal will see Dresser-Rand developing   and supplying turbines for Ocean Energy, and it is hoped that thousands of Irish jobs may be created thanks to the wave energy market.

Ocean Energy is the only company with whom Dresser-Rand has entered into a development agreement.

New Publication by the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a document entitled ‘The EPA and Climate Change: Responsibilities, challenges and opportunities’. It outlines the key roles and responsibilities that the EPA plays in the fight against climate change in Ireland as well as the challenges we face.

The EPA also hope to continue the Climate Change Lecture Series in 2010 and details will be available on their website soon.

The document can be downloaded from the EPA website.


Tesla and Panasonic deal on electric car battery packs

In January 2010, the United States (US) electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors signed a deal with Panasonic to develop the next-generation batteries for its cars.

Panasonic is currently undertaking a research and development programme on electric batteries and will begin production of the new nickle-based Lithium-ion battery cells (which will be used for Tesla vehicles) in April at its factory in Japan.

Development in Wind Energy

A new Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology for wind turbines has been developed by Danish researchers at the University of Stuttgart. LIDAR is a laser-based measurement technique that can detect wind speed and direction. The time delay of the laser beam allows the wind turbine to adjust its position and to use the wind more effectively.

Researchers believe that LIDAR technology could mean less risk of blades getting damages by winds as it could predict the wind strength. Therefore longer blades could be used, which could result in a 5% energy yield increase.

Green Touch Initiative creates new jobs

Seventy new jobs will be created in Ireland over the next five years by Bell Labs, the research facility of Alcatel-Lucent. Bell Labs is expanding in Ireland in order to support its involvement in the new Green Touch Initiative.

The goal of the Green Touch Initiative is to achieve a 1,000-fold improvement in energy efficiency in communications networks by 2015. A consortium of research facilities will work on the project and their first meeting will take place this month (February).

Finance Bill published

The Finance Bill was published by the Government today, Thursday 4th February. This Bill will legalise the measures announced in the Budget in December 2009, some of which include abolishing household waste tax relief.

Tax relief on service charges will be brought to an end in 2012. Also affecting service charges is the introduction of VAT in areas such as waste collection, recycling facilities and other services covered by local authorities. This may result in an increase in bin collection charges.

The Finance Bill follows an increase of the landfill charge to €30 by Minister for the Environment, Mr John Gormley T.D. at the end of January. Minister Gormley is to publish a landfill bill this year that will increse the landfill levy to €50 per tonne in 2011 and €75 per tonne in 2010.

Please see the Department of Finance website for further information on the Finance Bill.

Hydro-electric Dam to be built in the Amazon Jungle

Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency has given the green light to the contentious proposal to build a giant hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in the Amazon jungle.

The new ‘Belo Monte’ Dam will be the third largest dam in the world when completed. It will have a capacity of 11,000 megawatts and will be a major source of electricity in Brasil’s growing economy.

However, the project has been met with many objections from the local indigenous people of the Xingu River area as well as environmental campaigners. The plan for building a dam in this rainforest area was first proposed in the early 1990s but was shelved following widespread protests and opposition.

Woodland Initiative for Fingal

On Wednesday 3rd February, the Foot in the Forest initiative was launched in Fingal. This project aims to restore and develop native Irish woodland in two areas in Fingal: Turvey Park in Donabate and Santry Demesne.

The project is sponsored by IKEA, and the company has teamed up Fingal County Council and the Tree Council of Ireland to plant five acres of woodland in Fingal each year. A tree planting day will take place at Turvey Park on Saturday 13th March, the last day of the National Tree Week (6th-13th March), and all are welcome to participate.

The Foot in the Forest project will establish wildlife habitats and encourage biodiversity, as well as improving the local environment by absorbing carbon dioxide.

ERSI report on municipal waste management in Ireland

A new report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ERSI), ‘An Economic Approach to Municipal Waste Management Policy in Ireland’, has been published today (February 3rd).

This report was undertaken in light of the legally binding targets set by the European Union (EU) Land Fill Directive that Ireland must meet in 2010, 2013 and 2016. Although Ireland has made good progress in encouraging recycling, these targets will be difficult to meet.

This new report provides a guide to managing municipal waste in Ireland in an effective, efficient manner, with minimal costs involved. Some of the recommendations in the report include:

·          Waste levies for landfill, mechanical biological treatment (MBT) and incineration

·          A cap and trade system to help Ireland meet EU Landfill Directive targets in 2013 and 2016

The full report can be downloaded from the ERSI website.

Irish businesses focus on innovation

A new pan-European survey entitled ‘Opportunity Knocks?’ shows that Irish family and private businesses are more engaged in planning for new products and innovative business ideas than other European counterparts.

IBEC and KPMG undertook the survey of business people from eight European countries in November 2009. The results show that 10% more Irish business people see innovation as a key business plan over the next two years when compared with other Europeans surveyed.

The full report is available for download on the KPMG website.

EPA Biodiversity Action Plan published

On February 2nd, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ as part of its 2020 Vision – Protecting and Improving Ireland’s Environment. The EPA plans a number of activities in areas such as monitoring, research, environmental regulation and climate change in order to protect and encourage biodiversity in Ireland.

The Biodiversity Action Plan is available on the EPA website.

Water conservation plan for Ireland

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Mr. John Gormley T.D. has announced a large increase in investment for replacing water mains across the country. Over the next three years, the investment will increase five-fold to €300 million.

Details of the new water programme will be outlined next month. Mr Gormley is also expected to propose installation of water metres to homes that are connected to the public water supply.

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