Frank Gethings believes that redundancy can be looked at in two ways: either a gloomy end to a job or an opportunity to do something you have a passion about.
Gethings had been working for Maxtor, a multinational firm based in Bray, for about six years when it was acquired b y rival Seagate.
The change of ownership led to the closure of Maxtor, and Gethings was among more than 100 people who lost their jobs just before Christmas 2006.
‘‘Starting my own business had always been one of my goals, so I looked on the redundancy as an opportunity, as opposed to something negative,” said Gethings. ‘‘We received a good redundancy package from Maxtor, so I seized the moment: a case of now or never.”
Equipped with ‘‘the right attitude’’ and a keen interest in renewable energy, Gethings set about establishing Eco Evolution.
His firm specialises in all aspects of renewable energy – from consultancy to the design, supply and installation of wind turbines, solar heaters and even small-scale hydroelectricity generation systems.
‘‘The renewable energy industry in Ireland is only in its infancy and has tremendous potential for significant growth and high-calibre job creation,” said Gethings.
‘‘I think Ireland has the potential to be a world leader in this industry, but it will take real political leadership and proper support mechanisms to get it off the ground.”
A native of Ferns, Co Wexford, Gethings graduated in electronic engineering at Dublin City University in 1989.He worked for Kimble, a Dundalk based manufacturing firm, for six years, followed by a three-year stint with MKIR Panasonic.
When he went to work for Maxtor in 2000, he was able to move back home to Ferns, where Eco Evolution is now based. ‘‘I started working on setting up the company in 2006 when I was made aware of the impending redundancy,” he said. ‘‘This included carrying out intensive research and compiling a business plan, training and cherry-picking products.”
Gethings also did courses in sustainable energy, wind turbine and solar photovoltaic installation, and a wind energy module as part of a Masters in renewable energy systems.
Eco Evolution started trading in 2008, with funding from the Wexford County Enterprise Board. The firm is the official reseller for several international renewable energy products, and its customers are mainly in the residential and agricultural sectors. However, Gethings said that a number of commercial projects were also in the pipeline as businesses looked at ways to cut costs and become more environmentallyfriendly.
‘‘This is probably the only industry which can rise up out of the doldrums and lead this country into an era of prosperity once again,” said Gethings.
‘‘To support this energy revolution, our leaders must also rise up and take real responsibility for what needs to be done.”
Featured in the Sunday Business Post in ‘People in Business’ section:
irishtimes.com – Last Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 18:59
Carbon tax to drive up fuel costs
HARRY MCGEE, Political Correspondent
The new carbon tax at a rate of €15 per tonne will result in increases of 4.2 cent in the price of petrol and almost 5c in the price of diesel from midnight tonight.
The Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan announced the measure in today’s Budget speech, saying it was designed to change behaviour to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The most effective way to to put a price on carbon. This will encourage innovation by incentivising companies to bring low carbon products and services to the market,” he said.
The measure will yield a total of €250 million next year and some €330 million in a full year.
Notably, the Minister said that not all of the revenue would be ringfenced to encourage lower carbon emissions. He said some would be used to boost energy efficiency, some to support rural transport and some to alleviate fuel poverty.
He added that the tax “will also allow us to maintain or reduce payroll costs”, an indication that it will not be revenue neutral.
Some €50 million of the revenue will be used to fund measures for households at risk of fuel poverty to make their homes warmer.
The excise changes for oil, gas and kerosene will come into effect from tonight but price increases in coal, peat will not occur until May 2010.
The changes will lead to increase of an estimated 39 cent for a bale of peat briquettes and €1.79 for a 40kg bag of coal.
The latest study from the ESRI estimates the changes will cost households an average of between €2 and €3 per week, or up to €156 per year.
“The Evance R9000 is the latest variant of the long established 5kW small wind turbine from the UK manufacturer Iskra, recently re-branded as Evance.
The R9000 is the first turbine to be equipped with Reactive Pitch technology, a unique control concept developed and patented by Evance. Reactive Pitch guarantees that the blades will capture exactly the right amount of energy according to the wind speed and generator loading conditions.
At low to moderate wind speeds the Reactive Pitch mechanism captures the maximum energy possible from the wind by holding the blades with absolute precision at the maximum efficiency position.
At higher wind speeds, when the energy in the wind exceeds the maximum capacity of the generator, the R9000’s unique Reactive Pitch mechanism automatically pitches the blades. This regulates energy capture, rotor speed, and the loads experienced by the turbine structure. It will therefore capture the full 5kW power, and the reduction in stresses mean that the R9000 offers greater safety and survivability
The R9000 also has a patented high-efficiency generator which converts up to 96% of the energy captured from the wind into useful electricity. The generator is specifically designed for the R9000, and is integrated into the turbine’s rotor.
What all that means is that the Evance R9000 can capture more energy across the range of wind speeds, especially the lower and moderate speeds that are normally experienced on the majority of the mainland UK.
The combination of the advanced pitch control, which is much more effective than the Proven’s “coning” mechanism, and the more efficient generator enable the Evance R9000 to out perform the Proven WT6000 at lower to moderate wind speeds…”
Hydro electricity — Hydro electric generation — even on a small scale — can be a more cost-effective and, more importantly, predictable and consistent method of generating electricity on both a micro and commercial scale. If you are lucky enough to have a decent size stream running through your farm, it may certainly be worth looking at.
Co Wexford-based Eco Evolution (www.EcoEvolution.ie) is the agent in Ireland for the Landustrie range of Archimedean Screw hydro turbines supplied by Mann Power Consulting Ltd, the Archimedean Screw hydro turbine specialists in the UK.
Frank Gethings is the MD of the Ferns-based company, which specialises in the micro-generation technologies of wind turbines, Landustrie hydro turbines and solar PV systems. It also supplies and installs solar thermal systems, air-to-water heat pumps and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) systems.
The Archimedean Screw is old technology used as water pumps to lift water from one level to another. Landustrie manufactures two types of the Archimedean Screw, one for pumping water — as originally designed — and the other to generate electricity using the flow of water in the reverse direction, downwards to turn the screw and generate power.
Mr Gethings says: “The requirements for driving the screw are quite low, with a minimum head requirement of just 1m, up to a maximum of 10m. There is a minimum flow requirement of 100 litres/sec, which is the equivalent of a sizeable stream.”
These are said to have many advantages over the more traditional types of hydro turbines; the most important of these probably being the fact that they are fish friendly. Also, leaves and debris simply pass through the turbine with no fine screening required.
“They are also highly efficient across a large flow variation, with a hydraulic efficiency of 87pc and a water-to-wire efficiency of 77pc. They are suitable for small, domestic applications from 1kW up to larger commercial applications of 350kW.
“With each application we would have to do a feasibility study on each site and then the Archimedean hydro-electric plant would be custom-made to suit the site.” Small plants would generate as little as 1kW, while bigger plants could generate up to 350kW handling a water flow of up to 10,000 litres/sec.
“Old mills are ideal sites as the civil works are already in place and there is the potential to generate up to 15kW or so, depending on what’s there.”
Planning permission would be required for such an installation, and in the UK they have gone through all the processes to establish it as a fish-friendly design. Being site specific, it could be hard to estimate the price of installing such a facility, but MannPower Consulting has produced a chart in an effort to do just that.