Donegal's Journey Towards Renewable Energy

Project information

Index: 0988C3
Priority:2: Environment and risk prevention
Sub Theme:Energy and sustainable transport
Location IRELAND IRELAND Donegal Border, Midland and Western Start/End date of the practice
Start: 2003-03-01
End: 2010-06-30

Topic of the practice

Reenwable energy, green economy

Good Practice Information

The development of the renewable energy sector in Donegal since 2002 has centred around the following projects and initiatives:

Networking & Collaboration
Development of the Green Economy is a priority goal for Donegal County Development Board and Donegal County Council. Towards this end, the greatest possible sustainable development of renewable energy and the promotion of energy efficiency is being promoted by the Council and CDB. Vital to this is establishing, accessing, developing, consolidating networks.

Forest Link Project
The County Donegal Strategy for Economic, Social and Cultural Development provides long term commitment to and direction on the wood energy sector. The wood energy agenda was progressed under three sectors: energy; forestry and agriculture and food. There is formal acknowledgement of the multiple benefits of wood energy for the local economic sectors. The first phase of the Forest Link project was primarily a research project on the models of best practice for wood energy and community woodlands. It established relations and partnership with key stakeholders and decision makers through a range of actions including te organising of research trips, seminars, and an international conference in Donegal. The second phase of the Forest Link project promoted wood fuel energy demonstration models, supports the local supply chain and promotes the recreational use of woodlands. It was during this phase of the wood energy sector development that the Donegal Woodland Owners Society was established to progress the supply chain development within private forestry owners.

The wood energy development programme promoted by Donegal County Development Board has led to the provision of a market for local timber producers and the development of the local supply chain to ensure security of supply. To date ten large scale energy users have converted from oil to wood fuel, including hotels, leisure centres and schools. The CDB Inter Agency Energy Group
Stakeholders: Donegal is a predominately rural county, agriculture and forestry remain important economic activities. Biomass based on the forestry resource presents significant development potential as forestry thinning and residues are a potentially major source of wwod fuel. The Donegal CDB has been an effective vehicle through which to to promote and co-ordinate development of the wood energy sector. Iin 2000 the CDB Forestry Focus Group was setup and chaired by Teagasc, to inform the consultation process to develop the County Development Strategy. In Donegal the challenge going forward is to maintain the momentum and funding needed to continue the growth in this sector. The long term objective of all the Stakeholders is to establish a sustainable vibrant wood energy sector with County Donegal. The Establishment of the Donegal Woodland Owners Society which has 126 members is evidebce that the sector itself recogniseds the need for collaboration. Critical Success Factors: In looking at the Donegal experience, the following lessons were identified as critical to supporting the green economy and renewable energy sector - Coherent Policy Framework. Collaboration and Partnership. Awareness and Communications. Mobilisation and commitment of Stakeholders. Structures for Actions and Dedicated resources and Expertise.

Evidence of success

The work in developing a wood fuel energy market and local supply chain in Donegal from a zero base in 2003 to resulted in 15 conversions from oil based heating systems to wood energy, total of 4.4 kw installed and 10 new jobs created.

The phase of market expansion currently being implemented is providing a local renewable resource substitution for 1.4 million litres of oil through the utilization of 5000 tonnes of forestry extractions in the region.

Contact details to obtain further information on the practice

Charles Sweeney

Donegal County Council

Annex completed on: 03-11-2010

As of 31 December 2015, this website is no longer updated. Follow news on interregional cooperation at