Limerick Workshop – discussion on re-energising Ireland’s use of renewable energy in public transport.
The REPUTE workshop on renewable energy in Limerick afforded the opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders from the transportation industry in Ireland to come together and share their views on the significant opportunities posed by recent developments in renewable energy. Representatives from the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport, Limerick City & County Council, Bus Eireann, the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland, the Tipperary Energy Agency and LIT were in attendance.
Ciaran Lynch and Dermot Carroll of LIT opened the morning with a presentation introducing the REPUTE project and setting the context for the workshop. This was followed by a comprehensive presentation by transport consultant Graham Lightfoot on new developments in renewable energy and energy efficiency and how they might be utilised by Ireland’s transportation industry. Denise Keoghan of the Department of Tourism and Sport’s Sustainable Transport Division then outlined some of the measures and underlying policies currently being undertaken by the Government.
The presentations were given in a workshop format and there was lots of input from the participants. Some of the key learning from the workshop was that there has been very significant advances in technology in recent years. This has served to make a combination of renewable energy and efficiency approaches much more viable and cost effective than they have been to date. Mobile technology, improvements in Engine performance, kinetic energy recovery and compressed natural gas all provide opportunities for Irish transportation.
A word of caution was also sounded, however, in relation to the Irelands fiscal position. The possibility of making large scale capital investments is much diminished. Any proposals would have to demonstrate clear cost savings.
Summary of Main Points:
The main points covered in the workshop were;
– It is important that there is continuous training and education in energy efficient driving techniques for bus drivers. Monitoring of performance should be carried out regularly and incentivisation considered.
– There is a need for financial supports for the purchase of new vehicles that use alternative fuels. There is also a need to maximise the buying power to the state for PSO vehicles.
– It was proposed that younger generations are more disposed towards rental rather than ownership. There is therefore an opportunity for promoting car sharing and car rental schemes more effectively if campaigns are targeted at younger generations.
– The group felt that it is highly important that stakeholders in the transport industry such as private operators, Bus Eireann representatives, transport engineers etc must be included in decision making around renewable energy planning and policy making.
– Small Scale trials using the latest technology in renewable energy should be deployed in Ireland to build capacity and demonstrate cost effectiveness. There is potential for engaging European project funding to do this.
– The success of Dublin Bikes and the upcoming launches of similar schemes in Galway, Limerick and Cork was discussed. It was suggested that these schemes should be extended to other large urban centres in Ireland.
– It was acknowledged by all that transportation issues cut across many different streams of Irish life and that there is a need for cross departmental approach to transport issues. This is already a focus of the Government and should continue to be the case.
– The challenges of providing mass transport solutions to rural areas was presented. The current high car usage of rural dwellers is problematic and requires innovation and creativity.