Oileán Chléíre, also known in English as Cape Clear, is the home of the southernmost community in Ireland.
A North Atlantic island located 12 kilometres by sea from the mainland port Baltimore, Cape Clear is very exposed to the wild Atlantic wind and rain.
The island population is very cosmopolitan, with island residents from every part of Ireland and indeed many different parts of the world. The islanders cultivate a very welcoming community where everyone is respected and equally important. Throughout the year, you will see a multitude of events reflecting the ancient origins of the island’s people, their language, and more modern ideas and philosophies.
Cape Clear is famous for many things, including its ancient archaeology, its maritime tradition, and for Naomh Ciarán (Saint Ciarán), who is said to have brought Christianity to Ireland before Saint Patrick.
A vibrant community…a vibrant energy situation?
Cape Clear has been connected to the mainland for electricity supply via a subsea cable since 1996.
Electricity is the main energy source for Cape Clear, as it is cheaper to import than other energy sources. Many of the island’s buildings are not energy efficient. As part of its transition process, the island aims to establish an inventory of its electricity consumption and related emissions. Improving the energy efficiency of the houses would also reduce the emissions from peat and coal, which are currently used for fireplaces and stoves, and need to be imported from the mainland. Kitchens on Cape Clear often use bottled gas for cooking, as the islanders like to have an independent source in case electricity supply is interrupted during a storm.
As with many islands, the main mode of transport to and from Cape Clear is by ferry. The ferry service is reliable, but the transition team hopes to reduce the ferry’s carbon footprint through a possible introduction of hybrid and electric vessels that would use electricity produced on the island from wind, solar PV, or other sources. There is further room for transformation in transport modes on the island, as cars, boats, agricultural and gardening machinery currently all use petrol as fuel.
On to new (clean energy) shores
Cape Clear and its island community have been frontrunners on clean energy long before the importance the issue had permeated the understanding of our society. The community developed an integrated wind energy system in 1987, which operated until the early nineties.
The island is about to take part in a pilot project that will use electric minibuses and charge them with green electricity units. In the long term, the island hopes to generate clean energy locally to charge these electric vehicles. Cape Clear further aims to become a Smart Island, taking advantage of the digital technology available to advance the clean energy transition.
The island development cooperative Comharchumann Chléíre Teoranta has existed for almost fifty years and was first started to help bring electricity to the island. The coop is now involved in many aspects of island development and service provision.
True to their inclusive nature, the transition team on Cape Clear aims to facilitate participation in its clean energy transition by the entire island community in a way that fully takes account of good governance and equality for all islanders. The community is hopeful that embarking on the clean energy transition will make the island attractive not only for tourists, but also for families and individuals as a permanent life base.
Cape Clear’s Irish Language summer college brings a lot of teenagers to the island every summer, and the community looks forward to teaching them about the island’s energy transition in the future.
What does an island with such a colourful vision need?
As for many islands, Cape Clear is currently looking for support to develop their clean energy transition vision. Further needs include training on specific issues relating to transition planning, and support with engaging the community at a very practical level.
The Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat looks forward to supporting Cape Clear in its transition process, and in leveraging the innovative and creative forces innate to island communities.
Project-specific support provided by the EU Islands Secretariat
Cape Clear requested a study about a hybrid power plan consisting of a small wind turbine, PV panels and energy storage facilities to support the electrical grid for the charge of electrical vehicles.