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This is the Local Energy section of the Chapel Hill Energy Descent Action Plan.

Information originally included in this section was directly duplicated from the Local Energy section of the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan which was created by Pernilla West & Bridget Hannan. The Kinsale information is included as a guideline/inspiration to be supplemented or replaced by initiatives which originate from within Chapel Hill or that are specific to Chapel Hill. Information that is italicised is information that has been duplicated from the Kinsale plan and has not been considered for applicability to Chapel Hill.

The PresentEdit

Chapel Hill is dependant on an outside supply of oil and other fossil fuel to generate electricity and heating for homes, businesses and all public buildings. This situation is not sustainable as we are approaching a time of oil depletion and peak atmospheric and oceanic CO2 emmissions absorption. There is an urgency to stop emmiting Global Climate Change causing gases. And, although fossil fuels will still be available, they will not be affordable for the average person. Questions that are now being raised by people who are aware of Global Climate Change and Peak Oil, are questions that no person on the planet will be able to deny when the effects emerge to be felt directly and unfiltered.

When this time comes questions will be raised within the community.

  • How to cook and store food?
  • How to treat water?
  • How to heat, light and power homes, schools and other buildings?
  • How to priorities the use of energy to provide for our needs rather than for

luxuries?

The VisionEdit

Our aim for Chapel Hill is that by 2021 the majority of its energy will come from sources within a ten-mile radius. With this in mind we would envisage Chapel Hill as having pulled all its resources together and set up a far more sustainable energy network, incorporating several renewable energy sources. Wind would be the main one (For Chapel Hill Solar?) . It has been proven that, with wind, you can harvest twenty times more energy per hectare than energy crop plantations of short rotation coppice1. With wind speeds of 30 mph providing over 3 1/2 KW of power it will certainly meet Kinsale's energy requirement if combined with other sources such as solar, anaerobic digesters2 and Combined Heat and Power (CHP)3.

In addition to the introduction of renewable sources of energy, there will also be actions put in place to help Chapel Hill in saving energy in the first place. This needs to be done as soon as possible. To do this there will be an Energy Rating Scheme set up, which will survey buildings. The data will be used to analyse how energy efficient they are and also to identify what changes need to be made to ensure that the buildings no longer waste energy. Educational resources will be incorporated so that people can follow clear and simple guidelines to help them reach a 5 star rating. By 2021 people will look back on the amount of fossil fuel energy it took to sustain the 2005 lifestyle and be astonished that we were so wasteful.

Local resourcesEdit

Practical Steps:Edit

Currently In PlaceEdit

Chapel Hill is a progressive town and has already implemented many steps toward sustainabale local energy such as:

2006Edit

  • Provide every household and business with information on practical steps to save energy. These steps include such things as using long-life light bulbs, switching off all electrical appliances instead of leaving them on stand-by, only boiling the required amount of water instead of always filling the kettle, having properly insulated immersion tanks etc. This information has already been produced by CRed and could be sourced from them. It would need just a single sheet specific to Chapel Hill.


  • Encourage people to switch to sustainable energy supplier such as ???????, who guarantee that all the power they provide is generated from renewable sources (see Local resources).
  • Fit small solar panels to public lampposts, so as to make them energy autonomous, their high visibility being a good public awareness exercise.


  • Use alternative forms to communicate the scale of the needs/solutions relative to energy such as "Armstrong Hours".

(The energy put out by Armstrong going of the Pyrnees full tilt for an hour - or something like that). Work with The ReCYCLEry and bike lending program to further advance awareness of "Armstrong Hours".

2006Edit

  • Introduce the Energy Rating Scheme.
  • Implement new rigorous insulation standards for any new development in Chapel Hill.
  • Promote the use of double-glazing windows and proper roof insulation. Set up Buyers Clubs for insulation, so as to make it more affordable.
  • Setup of a group to locate a suitable site for a wind farm, and to develop a wind farm co-op. Places to consider for this would be the Old Head, or possibly off shore. Representatives from the group would make visits to other wind farms in Ireland. The group will organize meetings aiming to increase people’s awareness of wind farms and also discuss the possibility of their becoming shareholders in the co-op (the Baywind Energy Co-op in the UK is an excellent example of this).
  • Identify site and begin the planting of a short rotation coppice woodlands for wood supply for highly efficient woodstoves.

2007Edit

  • Continue programme of work on private dwellings to improve energy

efficiency levels.

  • Setup an anaerobic digester to heat the hospital, bringing in farm waste from surrounding farms. If combined with a combined heat and power plant (CHP), this could also power a number of neighbouring homes.
  • The wind farm co-op applies for planning and work begins on the construction of the wind farm.
  • Solar panels and photo-voltaics (4) begin to be installed in hotels, B&Bs and restaurants. Solar Clubs are set up in order to make solar water heating systems more affordable. Groups of 10 or more householders undertake to buy systems, resulting in their being in a very strong position for negotiating the price down.'

(4) A type of solar panel that generates electricity rather than hot water from the sun.

2008Edit

  • Set up a second Combined Heat and Power scheme (CHP) in town, to heat school and community centre, powered by biomass from the Council’s hedgerow pruning in the Kinsale area and from willow coppice plantations, part funded by LEADER and Sustainable Energy Ireland.
  • Investigate the potential of the House of Tomorrow scheme (5)

(5) This is an initiative from Sustainable Ireland aimed to accelerate improvements in the quality of energy features in Irish housing. It will do this by funding projects researching, developing and demonstrating more sustainable energy practices. Its focus is to stimulate the widespread uptake of superior sustainable energy planning, design, specification and construction practices in both the new home building and home improvement markets.

  • Encourage farmers to grow oats and straw for biomass heating (6).

(6) A system where oats, straw and coppiced wood are burned to produce heat.


2010Edit

  • First wind farm is up and running. It is supplying 50% of Kinsale’s energy on a private wire system, ie. supplying the town rather than feeding into the grid. This leads to far higher levels of efficiency.
  • The buildings in the Energy Rating Scheme are being assessed again to ensure that they are reaching their targets.


  • 40% of the buildings in Chapel Hill now have the majority of their hot water supplied from solar water heating systems (7).

2015Edit

  • Wind farms are now supplying 80% of Kinsale’s energy.
  • Anaerobic digesters and CHPs are supplying an additional 10% each.
  • 80% of Kinsale buildings have solar heating systems set up. A grant system is now in place, allowing people to pay for their panels in instalments over a long period of time.

2021Edit

  • Chapel Hill has now achieved its target. It is the first town (along with Carrboro) in the U.S. where all heating and power come from renewable energy sources. The town has become a role model for U.S. towns and cities who wish to do the same. It is a zero-carbon town.

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