Chooseday’s Choice! ~ Wood Fuel or Fossil Fuel?

Where does YOUR  energy go?

Fossil fuels are derivatives of plant and animal fossils that are million of years old. These are primarily formed from the remains of the decayed plants and animals. The three fuel sources coal, natural gas and oil help to meet the energy and electricity demands of today’s world.  Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy resources. Their supply is limited so they will eventually run out. Fossil fuels do not renew themselves, while fuels such as wood can be renewed endlessly.

Pollution is a major disadvantage that is formed due to fossil fuels as they release carbon dioxide when they burn, which adds to the greenhouse effect and increases global warming.  Coal and oil release sulphor  dioxide gas when they burn, which causes breathing problems for living creatures and contributes to acid rain.


You Choose!

You Choose - Wood Fuel or Fossil Fuel

You Choose – Wood Fuel or Fossil Fuel

Wood Fuel:

Using wood fuel instead of peat, coal and gas to heat our homes is a sustainable choice, and makes a positive contribution to the environment. Wood is ‘CO2 neutral’, the amount of CO2 wood releases during burning is equal to that which is absorbed during growth. In contrast, burning fossil fuels releases the global warming gas carbon dioxide, as well as other damaging pollutants. Wood fuel also takes just 5-20 years to grow, whereas peat and coal were formed over hundreds of thousands of years.

WFQA – Wood Fuel Quality Assurance:

wfqaThe Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme provides a simple but reliable way for consumers to purchase quality wood fuels that are accurately described, meet the supplier’s stated product specifications, and are produced in compliance with EUTR (EU Timber Regulation) ensuring sustainably produced woodfuels.


Modern, highly efficient stoves and boilers make wood fuel a practical and sustainable option for today’s lifestyle!




Major Increase in Energy Efficiency Grants to Householders

Minister for Energy, Alex White T.D., today announced a boost in the level of grants available to householders who want to undertake energy efficiency improvements. The cash value of every grant available to householders under the Better Energy Homes Scheme has been increased by between 25-50%. In addition, a bonus payment has been introduced which will see householders receive bonus payments if they complete three or more energy efficiency improvements.

The new grant levels are effective immediately and will apply to everyone who has applied for a grant that has not yet been paid. The previous minimum grant threshold of €400 has been abolished and a bonus payment of €300 for householders who undertake three efficiency measures has been introduced, with an additional bonus payment of €100 available to householders who undertake four measures. The bonus payments are available to new applicants and to householders who have already availed of the scheme who wish to undertake further upgrades.

Major Increase in Energy Efficiency Grants to Householders

The changes in grant levels, effective from today

The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grants to homeowners to undertake energy efficiency measures such as insulating walls or attics and installing new heating systems. Since the scheme was launched in 2009 more than 165,000 homes have undertaken energy efficiency upgrades with a total Government investment of €172m.

Under the revised scheme, a family in a semi-detached house could benefit from a grant payment of up to €4700 for external wall insulation, a boiler and heating control upgrade, and cavity and attic insulation. A couple in an apartment could receive €3400 towards internal wall insulation, a boiler and heating control upgrade and the installation of solar thermal heating.

Major Increase in Energy Efficiency Grants to Householders

Improve the Energy Efficiency of your home with Cavity Wall and Attic Insulation

The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme (BEWH), administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, funds energy efficiency improvements in the homes of the elderly and vulnerable, making the homes more comfortable, healthier and more cost effective to run. The Better Energy Warmer Homes services are provided by a panel of SEAI appointed non-profit community based organisations (CBO’s) and a panel of SEAI appointed private contractors. The Installers are assigned to a household depending on their geographic location. CBO’s and contractors deliver the BEWH to the highest quality assurance standards. Inspections are carried out on a sample of homes completed to ensure the standards are maintained.

The scheme is available to non-Local Authority owner occupied homes constructed before 2006. The owner of the property has also to be in receipt of one of the following:

  • Fuel Allowance as part of the National Fuel Scheme
  • Job Seekers allowance for over six months and with children under 7 years of age
  • Family income support

The service involves the installation of standard energy efficiency measures appropriate to the eligible household subject to SEAI survey, budget allocation and available capacity. The service is provided at no cost to the household and the measures currently available under this scheme are:

  • Attic insulation.
  • Draught proofing.
  • Lagging jackets.
  • Low energy light bulbs.
  • Cavity wall insulation.
  • Energy advice.

Landlords can avail of grants from Better Energy Homes if they have tenants in, or at risk of, energy poverty.

The Better Energy Homes scheme provides assistance to homeowners to reduce energy use, costs and greenhouse gas emissions and improve the comfort levels within their home. It is a national scheme therefore all homeowners of dwelling built before 2006 may apply. Landlords and owners of multiple properties may also apply, however they must submit a separate application form for each property.  Grants are available for eligible applicants for under taking energy efficient  upgrades.

Read full press release



A look back at 2014 – the power of water!

The blog has been quite of late so now its time to get back into the swing of things.  And what better way than to look back on some of the most memorable posts of 2014.  While looking back through the posts over the past few days it has stuck  me just how busy we were in the last year!

We have had to spend a huge percentage of the year traveling and working in the UK due to the lack of support mechanisms and action on microgeneration here in Ireland. In December ESBCS withdrew their export tariff scheme to new microgeneration customers which now means there is no financial incentive in this country for microgeneration as ESBCS were the only supplier offering such a tariff. Contrast this to the ROCs system in NI and the REFIT scheme in Britain, both these schemes pay for actual generation not just what is exported, there is a smaller top-up payment for export. On the brighter side we got the opportunity to travel through the most scenic countryside to visit and work on beautiful rivers and old mills.

Working in the great outdoors

Working in the great outdoors

Penllergare Valley Woods.

Almost a year ago to the day we visited Penllergare Valley Woods located on the northern fringe of Swansea. It was once a famous gentry estate and home to John Dillwyn Llewelyn, the notable 19-century horticulturalist, philanthropist and pioneering photographer. The development of the hydropower scheme in Penllergare Valley Woods will generate sufficient power to meet the needs of the sites new visitor centre and excess sold to the National Grid, raising an expected £10,000 per year for the trust. The Archimedean Screw with a length of 11m and a capacity of 2880 m3/h is situated next to the waterfall at Penllergare Valley Woods.

Archimedean Screw with ell pass running along side

Archimedean Screw with ell pass running along side

 Osney Lock.

Osney Lock Hydro was the first community-owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames. There was extraordinary support shown by local people towards the project. The Osney Lock Hydro share offer raised over £500,000 in just four weeks. Without this swift and significant support the project would not have been able to go ahead. Over 40% of the investment came from within a mile of the project and 4 out of 5 investors live in Oxfordshire.  On Tuesday 25th March at midday the dreams of the local residents came to life when a 4.35m-long, four-bladed Archimedean screw was installed at Osney Lock.


Osney lock hydro installation

 Mapledurham Watermill

The watermill is the last working corn and grist watermill on the River Thames and is still producing high-quality stone-ground flour today.  An Archimedean Screw hydro turbine was designed and installed in 2011 to replace the original turbine that had fallen into disrepair.   The 7.27 m Open Compact Archimedean Screw has a capacity of 5,000l/s and a predicted output of 99.95kW. It is estimated that it will save 221 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Over the course of a year, the screw will produce approximately 500,000kWh of renewable electricity which is being bought by Marks and Spencer via the national grid. The electricity generated is sufficient to power one of its stores.

Archimedean Screw

Archimedean Screw

The mill produces stone-ground flour using a waterwheel. Wholemeal and white flour, bran, semolina and Millers Mix, a blended combination bran and semolina, are all produced at the mill.  When the sale of the electricity has covered the cost of the turbine, the profits will go towards renovating the mill and its outbuildings to how it was 200 years ago. The new water wheel is the exact structural copy of the existing water wheel and is made out of oak which was sourced from the Mapledurham Estate.

New water wheel at Mapledurham

 Cragside House

Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. On the 9th April, a century and a half  after the first hydropower installation at Cragside House a new hydropower turbine arrived onsite. A 21st century, 17m long Archimedean Screw rated at 12kW and weighing several tonnes was craned into position at the southern end of Tumbleton lake and  will produce enough energy to re-light the house just like Lord Armstrong did.


17m long Archimedean Screw insitu

17m long Archimedean Screw insitu


The project consists of two 3.6m diameter Archimedes Screw hydropower  turbines. The turbines were designed to rotate at a speed of 28rpm, which produce a maximum power output of 150kW.  The estimated annual power output is 670,000kWh enough electricity to power over 150 homes and gives an estimated annual CO2 saving of 288 tonnes. A small percentage of the power generated is used to power the owners home and the remainder is sold to the National Grid. The fish pass and hydropower scheme was offically opened in 2009.

Wordless Wednesday ~ the power of water!

 Sowton Weir

Sowton Mill stands on the  River Teign in Devon and has been using hydro power for over 400 years, initially to mill corn and then, from the 1950s, to generate electricity.  In the 1980s a 16kW crossflow turbine was installed which was the U.K.s smallest electricity contributor to the National Grid. To improve the power generation and aid fish migration a decision was made to install the fish-friendly Archimedean Screw hydro turbine. Sowton hydropower scheme was developed by a private client to provide a renewable source of electricity to the property on site with all excess power sold to the National Grid.

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

 Tours and Shows

One of the most exciting memories of 2014 was visiting the IFAT show in Munich and continuing on to visit some Archimedes Screw installations in Munich, Czech Republic and The Netherlands. IFAT 2014 is the world´s leading exhibition of innovation solutions for environmental technology. Climate change, rising raw material prices, an increasing number of mega-cities and advancing industrialization in emerging countries  boost the demand for products and services that address environmental and climate challenges. With growing pressures on European countries to reverse years of environmental damage and to find more integrated pollution control techniques, the potential is limitless.


Frank at IFAT 2014

Frank at IFAT 2014

There are many more projects both here and in the UK at various stages of build which I hope to blog about throughout 2015. The projects mentioned are a taste of what community groups, home owners and businesses have achieved in their desire to harness the power of the river to generate green electricity. On our trips around Ireland with the Mills and Millers of Ireland we met several mill owners and enthusiasts who, like us are promoting the benefits of hydropower and encourage and assist in the preservation of old mills which are part of our Industrial, architectural landscape heritage.

We will continue to fight for microgeneration incentives because after all every person or household in the country that pays an electricity bill also pays a PSO. So  it is a little unfair that the ordinary man in the street who pays the bulk of this PSO does not benefit from it in the form of any incentive that would help him to install his own microgeneration.




Enthusiastic response received on the future of Ireland’s energy policy

Over 1200 submissions were received on the future of Ireland’s energy policy according to Minister for Energy Alex White. 

He welcomed the large number of submissions and said the Paper had stirred an enthusiastic debate on Energy policy in Ireland across a diverse range of stakeholders.

Enthusiastic response received on the future of Ireland’s energy policy


The Green Paper called for guidance on the route forward. Over 1200 submissions were received by yesterday’s closing date, demonstrating the strong interest in choosing the best route forward. Minister White said  “I am very grateful to all of the stakeholders interested in energy for taking the time to respond to the Green Paper.  My Department will be considering each of the valuable contributions.  Specifically, my officials will, over the coming months, be focussing on identifying and analysing the key issues raised across all the submissions”.

Following on from the written submissions, further engagement with stakeholders will commence in the Autumn to ensure that all of the issues identified in the submissions are fully understood. It will be critically important to ensure that the assumptions on which the White Paper will be written are tested and accurate.

Enthusiastic response received on the future of Ireland’s energy policy

Photo Credit:

Commenting on the forthcoming engagement phase, Minister White said “There is an absolute necessity for the White Paper to be fit for present and future purposes and to set a balanced, robust and enabling framework. I want a dynamic and responsive evidence based framework that will allow all of us to steer the appropriate course as we seek to deal with sustainability, security, and competitiveness challenges and opportunities.”

“Developing the policy will not be easy as we aim to strike the right balance between the interests of all energy stakeholders, especially families and businesses as our social and economic recoveries take root. We will continue to encounter uncertainty at home, within the EU and further afield which will directly impact on our ability to achieve our Energy policy goals. But we can be clear on the goals we wish to set and the course we wish to take. The White Paper will provide the certainty and clarity required for a new Energy for Ireland.

The Green Paper was published by the Minister’s predecessor, Mr. Pat Rabbitte T.D., in May, and the consultation period closed on 31 July, after a period of 12 weeks.



Read full press release

Chooseday’s Choice ~ Is your home leaking energy?

Where does YOUR energy go?

Air infiltrates into and out of your home through every hole and crack. About one-third of this air infiltrates through openings in your ceilings, walls, and floors. Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a lot of your energy.

One of the quickest tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weatherstrip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. You can save on your heating and cooling bill by reducing the air leaks in your home.

You Choose!

Air leaks