The Valentia Island Community Hydrogen event was held on the 27th of April 2019 in the Royal Hotel, in County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.
The Keynote address to the event was presented by Ireland's foremost environmental personality Duncan Stewart, and this resulted in over 100 local people being in attendance on the day. The first section of the day was the judging of Renewable Energy themed paintings from children out of the local Junior schools on the island by Duncan, this was great fun and it set a lovely tone for the second part of the event which was a little bit more serious but still kept lighthearted.
The local Valentia Energy group is soon to become a formal Energy Co-operative. Its Chairman Colum O Connell introduced the community energy groups history to date and the potential Hydrogen future plans. This was followed by the days speakers who were: Elizabeth Johnson ( Pure Energy Centre), James Carton ( Dublin City University), Rory Monaghan ( NUIGalway and GenComm) and Lugh O Braonáin ( Energy Co-operatives Ireland). Ms Johnson spoke of the real life application of Hydrogen from renewable energy. She told of her involvement in the highly successful community based Surf n Turf Hydrogen project in the Orkney Islands.
An extensive Q&A on the subject of locally produced and consumed Hydrogen followed with every query from the community being answered. The success of the day provided a fantastic platform to move onto sharing the fully completed Hydrogen Valentia Island Feasibility study report with the local community in a couple of months time.
The event was called ‘How Valentia can enable Irish communities to make the energy transition’. This feasibility study into the local production and consumption of Hydrogen in a sustainable way on Valentia Island was previewed in the Irish Examiner newspaper. The newspaper reported how a Co Kerry island is aiming to produce clean energy which could be used to power public lighting and propel its ferry service, among other uses.
The project which is community-led is based on a successful venture which has been continuing and developing on Scotland’s Orkney Islands since 2016.
Colum O’Connell, chairman of the Valentia Energy Group pointed out islanders would be able to pull up at hydrogen refuelling stations just as Orkney islanders currently do. Mr O’Connell said in the not-too-distant future Valentia could eventually be a powerhouse for storing and selling on the clean energy. He added that hydrogen is the up and coming ‘transitional’ energy technology as the world moves from carbon and fossil fuels. Harvested from water, using renewable energy methods, it can be stored as a gas in cylinders.
The Chief Executive of Energy Coops Ireland, Cormac Walsh described the venture as exciting saying: “We are thrilled to be working with the team in Valentia. The production of hydrogen from renewable energy has the potential to enable Valentia to get to their goal of energy independence and a reduced carbon community.”