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Meet the Aran Island Pilot Site

The Aran Islands Partner in the RESPOND project is Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta, or Aran Islands Energy Cooperative . This is a community owned energy cooperative which was established in 2012. It aims to help the three Aran Islands become Carbon neutral by 2022. The Cooperative also facilitates the retrofitting of the dwellings on the islands as many of the houses there are older with little if any insulation, this has been very successful so far.

The location of the Irish pilot site is on Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands in the mouth of Galway Bay. With a population of approx 800 people the island itself is very exposed to the elements, particularly during the winter months as it has very little shelter. The islands, which are very popular with tourists – especially in the summer season, are very isolated and have little in the line of services that one might see in some of the other pilot areas. The islands have a rich history and culture which is preserved there and are an extremely popular tourist attraction to people from all over the world. There are many ancient stone fortresses on the island as well as many ruins of churches and monastic settlements. 

All five houses currently signed up to the project have their own individual connection to the electricity supply and a there is a meter within each dwelling where the electricity usage can be easily tracked. There is no gas connection available on the island, and so the households that have gas appliances (cookers only in this case) use bottled gas which is imported onto the island and sold by various local vendors. 

Since the introduction of the BEC (Better Energy Communities) scheme by the SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) in 2012, which is still running, fossil fuel imports into the island have steadily declined. This is great news for our environment and a testament to the success of the scheme. Almost 50% of all houses across the three islands have been retrofitted to some degree, with many having solar water heaters or PV panels installed. There has been a huge amount of insulation work carried out also, as a lot of dwellings on the islands are older buildings, built of stone and poorly insulated. There are currently 9 electric vehicles on Inishmore, and we hope to see this steadily increase over time. There have been several incentive schemes rolled out over the past few years to increase interest in and purchases of EVs. 

Air conditioning is nonexistent within the pilot dwellings, with the exception of extractor hoods used during cooking, which are very common, as the summers on the island are very mild. Temperature control within the dwellings focus’ solely on heating rather than cooling, mostly between the months of September through to May, inclusive.

Below are some images of the pilot site. Left; one of the dwellings discussed in this report. Middle; Inishmore on the map. Right; View of Inishmore from the south.

All of the houses store energy is some shape or form, for the most part it is stored in the form of hot water in cylinders within the house for use when needed. Only one of the dwellings has a battery storage system, which is being used to store excess energy produced from the PV panels.  Three of the dwellings have storage heaters installed in the property also.

There is no DR equipment installed in any of the dwellings, as part of this project a program suitable to the dwellings could be applied.

As part of the RESPOND project each of these 5 houses, and any which will participate in the future, will be fitted with the following;

  • A prosumer meter for measuring power to/from the PV panels, house and grid.
  • 2 smart cables for appliances up to 16A.
  • 3 Smart Plugs which can control/measure loads on appliances up to 16A
  • 3 Temperature and Humidity sensors which will report temperature and humidity every 5 minutes.
  • A GSM modem with a gateway which will collect sensor data for analysis.

This equipment will be installed into the dwellings in Summer 2018 and will begin to monitor power consumption in the dwellings to create a baseline for the project.