This proposal was refined and developed into a funding application (branded as the HANDIHEAT Project), which focused on identifying the means by which domestic heating solutions utilising renewable energy sources could be developed and implemented in rural communities across the project area of Northern Europe.
The second HANDIHEAT pilot demonstration aims to explore the potential improved energy efficiency and low-carbon heating solutions for six homes in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh. This pilot will evaluate a combination of hybrid heating and electric generation and storage installations in these properties, including oil boilers with air source heat pumps; solar photovoltaic panels; and battery storage systems as well as energy-efficient insulation measures. In the strategic context of the Climate Change Act there is an imperative to find alternative energy sources to counteract the current high level of fossil fuel consumption, particularly in rural settlements that do not have access to alternative sources of low-carbon heating.
The Fermanagh pilot is also being supported by associate partners, Electric Storage Company, which specialises in energy storage solutions (storage batteries) and staff from Ulster University, who will analyse and monitor the effectiveness of the hybrid systems over a 24-month period.
Data from the pilot will be analysed to assess the suitability of low-carbon and hybrid options as alternatives to oil-fired boilers, which are still the predominant fuel source currently being installed in Northern Ireland.
Useful Learnings from HANDIHEAT
The concept of HANDIHEAT started in 2016 with the aim to make rural communities fully sustainable. The first concept was to use an Anerobic Digestion to heat local homes in a project led by ARC Healthy Living Centre in Fermanagh. After discussions with Action Renewables, and the Housing Executive we collaborated to submit a funding bid via the EU Interreg fund, Northern Periphery & Artic.
Collaboration and partnership is essential. We had ARC Healthy Living Centre: an essential support network for rural Enniskillen communities and Clar Irish Centre of Housing in Claremorris, Co Mayo who had close links to their local community. We brought in academic experts from Northern European countries how had experience in rural solutions, researchers from Ulster University and collaborative learning from other EU-funded projects, eg EU Interreg SPIRE2 project via Ulster Univerisity. Engaging with industry innovators was key to ensure business models became sustainable. In Northern Ireland the Electric Storage Company provided a vision for electric generation and storage, from ROI, grant boilers offered solutions for hybrid electric heating and data monitoring from climate in Dundalk. Collaboration was essential to provide solutions for rural householders.
We need more data sensors, and to ensure that data is uploaded on a regular basis. The project demonstrated that thermal improvements was only part of the solution for low carbon solutions, a need for electric tariff change is also a necessary ingredient.
The Housing Executive with Ulster University is starting a subsequent project now, which includes a 'time of use' electric tariff, improved thermal improvements and low carbon heating to 10 houses in Omagh (project called RULET, Rural Leading the Energy Transition).
Solar PV/electric storage.
Carbon reductions to the grid.