Recently Appointed Steering Group to advise on Energy Policy Paper in Ireland

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White T.D., opened the next phase of the public consultation process as part of the development of a White Paper on Energy Policy.

Minister White announced that he will chair a Steering Group that will advise on the finalisation of the Energy Policy Paper. He confirmed that John Fitzgerald (ESRI), Brian Motherway (SEAI, and Helen Donoghue (IIEA) are pleased to participate on the Steering Group, together with three officials from the Department.

green paper

The launch event was held in Dublin and was attended by over 150 stakeholders. In welcoming the attendees, the Minister noted the timelines of the event, one day after the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York, attended by over 120 Heads of State and Government. The Minister also reviewed progress to date and set out the next steps towards the development of a definitive Energy Policy Paper for publication by September 2015. The event follows the launch of the public consultation process with the publication of the Energy Policy Green Paper in May by the Minister’s predecessor, Mr. Pat Rabbitte, TD, which has stirred an enthusiastic debate on energy policy in Ireland across a diverse range of stakeholders. The consultation resulted in over 1,200 responses being received by the July closing date. The significant response demonstrates the strong interest in choosing the optimal route for future energy policy.

Minister White said, “My Department has conducted an initial analysis of the valuable contributions made by interested parties. The key issues raised in relation to each of the areas set out in the Green Paper have been identified. This launch event today kicks off further engagement with stakeholders, as I had previously indicated in July. My officials will host several events with stakeholders on all of the priorities set out in the Green Paper, to ensure that all of the issues identified in the submissions are fully understood. We want to be sure that the assumptions on which the White Paper will be written are tested and accurate. As I said in July following the great interest shown in the development of a fit-for-purpose Energy Policy, there is an absolute necessity for the White Paper to set a balanced, robust and enabling framework for Ireland’s Energy transition. 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.”

The Minister went on to say, “Energy Policy is first and foremost about people – we need to ensure a safe, sustainable, economic and cost-effective energy sector, no matter who the consumer is, be they householders, small start-up businesses, multi-nationals – or one of our younger citizens needing access to a warm comfortable room for play, study or rest. We must develop an energy policy that underpins the social recovery that is underway and that facilitates further economic development for the betterment of society as a whole. We must not lose sight of this main goal, because an energy policy developed with this main aim in mind will be sustainable in the long term.”

future energy

The consultation process now continues with further engagement at various stakeholder events between now and the end of the year. Drafting of the White Paper will follow in the first half of 2015 with a view to publication of a finalised White Paper by September. The new Energy Policy Framework will be timely in that it will be guided by Ireland’s input to the EU’s 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy policies and the preparations for the UN’s COP21 in Paris (the 21st Conference of the Parties within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in November next year.


Read full press release


Ampair 6kW Wind Turbine – an overview
The Ampair 6kw turbine combines practical and robust engineering with an elegant look. The turbine itself is a three blade, up-wind machine with an auto-furl mechanism to prevent over-speeding. Design considerations include a direct drive generator to minimise the number of moving parts and high specification components to ensure longevity.
The Ampair 6kW has been independently tested under the UK’s Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Comparison with MCS data for other turbines in the 5-6kw range reveals the Ampair 6kW is the most productive machine in its class. It is one of the most successful in the Ampair range since the business arrived in the U.K. due to it being incredibly flexible in application.
Ampair 6kW wind turbine
Ampair 6kW Wind turbine

Technical Specifications at a glance:

  • MCS Certified Product
  • Eligible for Feed-in tariffs or NIROC’s depending on where you live
  • Generates power continuously from below 3 m/s
  • Simple robust design
  • Tested in the strongest IEC class I wind conditions
  • Suitable for coastal locations
  • Multiple tower options
  • Models for grid connection, battery charging, or direct heating
Ampair 6kW Wind turbine
Technical Specification
Ampair 6kW Wind turbine
Power Curve

The Design:

Coatings: All main structural components are hot-dip galvanised or interzinc primed for enhanced corrosion protection.

Tail Rudder: When the prevailing wind blows the rudder will be forced parallel to the wind direction. This motion will rotate the turbine to face into the wind.

Tail Plane: Unlike the rudder, the tail plane does not direct the rotor. Its primary function is to aid the furling action of the turbine by lifting the tail in high winds.

Blades: The  fibreglass blades are recognised as one of the strongest and durable designs on the market. They are complete with winglets which enhance airflow to produce an incredibly quiet turbine.

Rotor: The rotor has a swept area of 24m². The design of our bearings, efficient generator and  blades allow the fixed pitch rotor to move freely; which is why no other competitor machines will better the 6kW on low wind start-up.

Paint Options: Choose your colours. We offer light grey, gloss white, off white and light green. Blade sets can also receive a gloss black finish. If you want something extra, we will do our best to provide.

Seals: Throughout the machine we use high quality seals to protect our bearings and other components. The generator itself is completely sealed from the natural environment, giving a long trouble free turbine life span even in the harshest conditions,

Bearings: Ampair only use the highest quality branded bearings. The bearings have been selected to last the machine lifespan without the need for their replacement.

Nacelle: Ampair are one of the few manufacturers who use galvanised steel nacelles. As a result of this design feature the turbine is extremely well protected from corrosion.

Yaw: Ampair uses a passive yaw design. Our high quality branded bearings, with no gearing, offer a yaw mechanism that is very robust.

Magnets: Ampair  use some of the worlds strongest Rare Earth Magnets (Ne-Feb-Br) available; maximising power production capabilitity.

Ampair 6kW Noise Report
Ampair 6kW Noise Report

The market place offers a colossal range of small wind turbines but if you want a robust and reliable machine that will run for many years with minimal maintenance  you will find it in the Ampair range of turbines. The 6kW is an excellent wind turbine for a stand alone system in remote locations and has a track record unsurpassed.

We are the Irish resellers and installers of the Ampair range of wind and hydro turbines.  If you have a site suitable for a wind turbine and you’re interested in generating your own electricity contact us here.


Blog Awards Ireland 2014 ~ We’re in the finals

I was absolutely thrilled when scrolling down through the list of  The Blog Awards Ireland 2014 finalists to discover that the Eco Evolution blog had reached the finals in two categories – Best Eco/Green Blog sponsored by ESB eCars and Best Science/ Technology Blog. What a great start to the weekend 🙂 It’s my second year to reach the finals in the Best Eco/Green Blog category. I’m up against some great blogs, but to reach the final stage is an honour in itself.

I’d like to extend my congratulations to all the bloggers who made it to the finals and commiserations to those that weren’t selected. The Blog Awards Ireland  is a great way to get your blog noticed and gain readership and most importantly discover other bloggers that you might not otherwise have heard of and make connections with those that share similar interests.

Blog Awards Ireland 2014 - we've reached the finals
Blog Awards Ireland 2014 Finalist

Best of luck to the finalists in all thirty categories and to the judges who have tough decisions to make over the next two weeks. The finals will take place on the 04th October in the Westgrove Hotel, Clane where we will see a blogger from each category crowned the winner. It promises to be a great night kicking off at 6:30 with a drinks reception and plenty of opportunities for chatting to other bloggers and getting photos. The meal starts at 7:30, each course is followed by the announcement of ten awards, ending around 10:30 with the announcement of the winners of Best Blog, Best Blog Post and the Glenisk competition.

Hats off to Lorna, Amanda and all the team for organising such a wonderful event.

Ampair completes Westwind acquisition and now provides worlds largest range of small wind turbines

Ampair, the Dorset-based wind turbine manufacturer, has completed its acquisition of Westwind, the Belfast-based wind turbine manufacturer. Ampair, with over 40-years’ experience, is the UK’s oldest manufacturer of wind turbines. The acquisition allows Ampair to boast the title of having the largest range of wind turbines of any small wind manufacturer in the world, offering a selection of wind turbines from 100W through to 20kW.

Ampair 6kW Wind Turbine
Ampair 6kW Wind Turbine

These turbines are typically used on locations ranging from yachts to powering farms and houses. Ampair’s managing director David Sharman said this morning “the completion of this deal puts Ampair in a very strong position for the future with business risk diversified against a wide portfolio of time-served turbine products, including three MCS-certified turbines. With a range of eight turbines we can always offer the customer the right turbine for their needs.

We in the industry are all too familiar with the overnight collapse of manufacturers who rely on only one or two turbines or immature product. A particular strength of Ampair is the long term commitment to serving a global market and this reduces our exposure to short term local politics that can influence individual countries. As a result of this acquisition we hope Ampair will continue to grow and be delivering turbines to happy customers for at least another 40 years. ”

We are the Irish resellers and installers of the Ampair range of wind and hydro turbines.  If you have a suitable site for a wind turbine and  interested in generating your own electricity or if you’re  involved in the marine industry please contact us.

Ampair now have new operating facilities based in Antrim.


Building an Insect Hotel for Winter Hibernation

An insect hotel improves a garden’s biodiversity and provides refuge for pollinators and pest controllers. 

Insects might not look like particularly significant visitors to your garden, but they’re vital to keeping the ecosystem working. If you want to help them get through the hard times or give them somewhere to breed, provide them with their own place to stay. With the cooler weather fast approaching now is the time to consider providing suitable hibernation habitat for beneficial insects that pollinate trees and vegetable crops, and control pests.  After all,  you will need them when the frantic planting season begins next Spring and what better way to start the season than having your own little colony of insects to help you on the way.

Building an insect hotel for Winter hibernation
Hover flies one of our important pollinators

Our gardens are home to a wide range of insects and the average garden could hold over 2,000 different species of insect. By creating the right habitats we can increase the number of beneficial insects in our gardens. Pollinator habitats can attract domestic honeybees, bumblebees, solitary bees and other wild beneficial insect species. These beneficial species include many different wasps, beetles, lacewings, hoverflies, ladybirds and earwigs and  prey upon the kinds of insects such as lice and mites that damage plants and hence aids pest control. By providing the correct habitat we can contribute to their conservation.

Building an Insect Hotel for Winter Hibernation.
Image copyright: Cheshire Wildlife Trust

There is no standard design for an insect hotel. Just design with your available materials — preferably recycled and natural materials such as old pallets, clay pots, clay pipes, bricks, carpets etc. Insect hotels come in many shapes and sizes but to be effective they need to have many small holes and cavities that insects can crawl or fly into.

Many invertebrates like cool damp conditions, so you should build your insect hotel in semi shade, by a hedge or under a tree. Putting the insect hotel close to other wildlife features such as an overgrown hedge, a shrubbery or a pond will make it easier for small insects to find it. Remember,  not all creatures like the shade especially solitary bees so make sure to place their part of the habitat facing the sun.

Build an Insect Hotel for Winter Hibernation
Herb garden and Insect hotel. Credit:

From my experience working with my local Tidy Towns group, the Green Schools Committee and talking to other groups the most common way to build an insect hotel is to use old pallets and fill the gaps with a variety of recycled materials to attract a large and varied number of creatures. No need to go more than five pallets high for the insect hotel with the bottom pallet upside down, this should create larger openings at the ends which can be used for a hedgehogs and frogs.  If you only have room for something on a much smaller scale there are several ways you can use recycled materials and turn them into suitable habitats or  there are a range of FSC  certified insect hotels available at most garden centres.

Building an insect hotel for Winter hibernation
Credit: High Contrast/Wikimedia Commons

A simple insect hotel can be made from a collection of hollow stems, twigs and cones packed into a plastic bottle with the end cut off. Several hotels could be placed in different positions around the garden such as on the ground amongst vegetation, next to a wall, fixed to a post placed in a hedge or hanging from a tree.

Another easy design is to take a bundle of bamboo canes or other twigs and tie them together with a piece of string. Hang up the bundle under the branch of a tree or to a railing and the insects will start to move in.

Building an Insect Hotel for Winter Hibernation.
Insect Hotel made from recycled plastic bottle. Credit:
Building an insect hotel for Winter Hibernation
An insect hotel made from a simple bundle of canes/twigs tied together

Use old pots, twigs, rolled up cardboard etc to create a simple but interesting looking insect hotel.

Building an insect hotel for Winter hibernation

What types of habitiats are needed to conserve our pollinators and other insects.

Dead wood  is an increasingly rare habitat because in recent times we have become excessive with neatness in our gardens, parks and amenity areas. It is essential for the larvae of wood-boring beetles such as the stag beetle because they feast on the decaying wood. Place at the base of your hotel so the logs stay nice and damp and mix with other decaying plant matter to attract centipedes (which devour slugs) and other woodland litter insects such as millipedes and woodlice (which will provide a welcome source of food for birds). This is also a great spot for garden spiders.It also supports many fungi, which help break down the woody material.

Holes for Solitary Bees: There are many different species of solitary bee and all are excellent pollinators. The female bee lays an egg on top of a mass of pollen at the end of a hollow tube, she then seals the entrance with a plug of mud. A long tube can hold several eggs. Hollow stems, bamboo canes or holes drilled in blocks of wood make great habitats for the solitary bees. When it comes to drilling holes in wood, take into consideration the fact that different bee species are drawn to different sizes of holes for shelter and egg-laying and remember to use wood that is preservative free.  As mentioned above you can make a home for solitary bees by collecting hollow stemmed canes and placing them in plastic bottles or lengths of drain pipe. You can also build a wooden shelter similar to a bird box. Solitary bees like warmth, so place your habitat in a sunny spot.

Building an insect hotel for Winter Hibernation
Solitary Bee ~ Photo Credit:

Straw and hay: These provide many opportunities for invertebrates to burrow in and find safe hibernation sites.

Dry Leaves: Provides homes for a variety of invertebrates as it mimics the natural conditions found in forests.

Loose bark and decaying wood: Beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice all lurk beneath decaying wood and bark. Woodlice and millipedes help to break down woody plant material. They are an essential part of the garden recycling system.

Lacewing homes: Straw, dried grass or rolled up cardboard is just the material for a cosy lacewing habitat. While lacewings may be beautifully intricate to look at, they are truly the gardener’s best friend, devouring aphids and other pests such as scale insects, many types of caterpillar and mites. Place the straw or cardboard inside an old open-ended plastic bottle to prevent it turning soggy.

Building an insect hotel for Winter Hibernation
Ladybirds enjoying the French Gorse

Ladybirds: Ladybirds and their larvae are fantastic at keeping aphids at bay. The adults hibernate over Winter and need dry sticks or leaves to keep warm and dry.

Bumblebees: Every Spring queen bumblebees search for a site to build a nest and found a new colony. An upturned flowerpot in a warm sheltered place would be an ideal habitiat to attract the queen bumblebee to your garden.

Bees, butterflies and some other insects sometimes find their way into your house to hibernate well away from the winter chill! This can mean they wake up when you put the heating on, so if you find one hiding in your house, try moving it to a cool, dark place to encourage it to go back to sleep until spring.

If you’re feeling creative and want to  build a five star insect hotel take a look at these for some inspiration.

Remember simple things like leaving a pile of logs or stones in a corner of your garden or just leaving fallen leaves on the ground will provide natural habitats for insects, invertebrates and pollinators which in turn will help to enrich the local ecosystem and ensure your garden is as productive as it can be.

Have you built an insect hotel in your garden? Have you seen an increase of insects, pollinators etc since building it?

If you’d like to know more about why you should consider building a bug hotel Greensideup gives three great reasons why we need to build more bug hotels.























Boland’s Mill on the Kings River, Kilkenny (1193 – 1990)

The five storey Boland’s Mill  is situated in one of the most attractive mill environments in Ireland, beside the beautiful Kings River in Kilkenny.

The 5 storey Boland’s Mill

The origins of Boland’s Mill traces back to 1193, when it was owned by Augustinian monks from Cornwall. It remained the property of the Augustinians until 1540; Cromwell had ownership at one time and gave it to a man named Holohan.  By the middle of the 18th century ownership had passed to people called Phelan who milled for many years.  In 1825 Richard Hutchinson bought it and left it to his nephew, also called Richard Hutchinson, who ran the mill from 1912 to 1939 when he became ill.

The waterwheel

Lily Hutchinson, his daughter, took over the running of the mill when her father died in 1940 and ran it successfully through the difficult war years. She married Arthur Boland in 1954 and he ran the mill until his untimely death in 1979, aged 58.  The mill was idle in the years from 1979 to 1983 when Oliver Mosse leased the building and produced Kells Wholemeal between 1983 and 1987. Bill Mosse took over the running of the mill between 1987 and 1990 when it ceased milling and has been idle since.

One of 5 original mill stones

Boland’s Mill is one of seven mills situated along the Kings River between Kells and Thomastown. Some are still standing and others are now in ruins. Although the mill has fallen into disrepair over the years the original  gearing that was made from timber, the five mill stones, a large selection of the tools used during the milling of the grain and the original weigh bridge are all still intact.

Original Wooden cogs

Boland's Mill on the Kings River, Kilkenny

Boland's Mill on the Kings River, Kilkenny
Original weigh bridge

The Mill worked on commission.  The farmer owned the corn which was ground at a price per Bushel.  In those days a farmer aimed to grow enough wheat to supply his family with the wholemeal for the year and enough Barley and oats to feed his cattle, horses, sheep and hens – also for the year ahead. It was an excellent system, giving security to the farmer and his household.  During the war farmers were allowed to keep 1 Bushel of wheat per member of his household per year so they were never short of wheatmeal to make bread.


Harvest time was very busy in the mill.  All the wheat had to be dried before it was milled and if the harvest was wet most of the barley and oats also needed drying.  The grain was hauled up to be dried either in the drying lofts or in the kiln room. The grain was fed to the stones through the shoots sunk in the upper floors of the mill.  Each grain demanded a different stone dressing and for fine ground grain riddling and screening was also necessary.

If you are the owner of an old mill site or a potential hydro site or are a community group interested in developing a hydro project for community use please contact us.