RASLRES is a €3m multi-national European bio-energy project.

The Minister for Defence Mr Tony Killeen TD today launched the Regional Approaches to Stimulation Local Renewable Energy Solutions Project (RASLRES) on behalf of the Western Development Commission.

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The launch took place in the Bunratty Castle Hotel in Clare.

RASLRES is a €3m multi-national European bio-energy project funded by the Northern Periphery Programme which seeks to build awareness of opportunities for rural communities to produce and supply locally produced biomass (wood, seaweed and energy crops) to towns and cities.

Speaking at the launch Minister Killeen said “This exciting project aims to provide business development support to rural biomass communities and will aid development of biomass supply chains through direct business and community engagement. The project has the potential to bring nearly €1 million funding to Ireland’s Western Region over its three year lifetime and support over 50 companies. While some of the other countries are pursuing various other renewable energy areas under this Programme, the WDC is focusing on the wood energy sector.”

The RASLRES project will address current barriers to market growth including low levels of market confidence, insufficient market information and limited technical and business skills, and actively tackle the issues at regional and local level.

The Minister said: “If the Western Region develops a vibrant wood energy sector, it will help stimulate rural development and create jobs. WDC research has shown that the West could develop an indigenous, sustainable, renewable energy resource delivering 11% of the region’s heat needs by 2020. Such growth will require over 470,000 tonnes of wood fuel per year and would also mean an additional €15 million per annum to the economy and create up to 900 additional jobs in rural areas. Importantly, it has the potential to provide €1.7 million each year to the West’s farming sector.”

The jobs created would be spread across the entire supply chain and result in additional activity to the benefit of private forest owners, forest contractors, haulage companies, plumbers, engineers, electrical companies etc.

”The spin off from the additional employment has the potential not only to revitalise many areas that are dealing with the fallout of the current economic climate but also on the green side, our carbon footprint will improve as the estimated CO2 emissions saved annually would equate to taking over 92,000 cars off our roads”, concluded Minister Killeen.

RASLRES is an international partnership which includes:

– Western Development Commission – Ireland
– Action Renewables – Northern Ireland, UK
– Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College – Scotland
– Municipality of Norsjo – Sweden
– Oceanrainforest Ltd – Faroe Islands
– VTT, Technical Research Centre – Finland

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