Lack of planning preventing Ireland from being a global leader in offshore wind

ActionZero met with Professor Jerry Murphy, a leading thinker in renewable energy, to discuss the challenges preventing Ireland from being a global hub for offshore wind, and why it’s so important to Ireland’s net-zero future.

 

Offshore wind farms, as the name suggests, are large-scale turbine constructions mounted on floating platforms built out in the ocean. They’re connected to the onshore grid via high-voltage transmission lines and offer a cleaner way to generate power than burning fossil fuels. 

They’re also key to Ireland’s plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. That’s according to Professor Jerry Murphy, Professor of Civil Engineering at University College Cork and a leading thinker in renewable energy.

Ireland has set ambitious goals for renewable wind energy”, Professor Murphy says. “However in order to meet those targets, Ireland will need to hugely increase its production of wind electricity from offshore wind farms.”

The National Development Plan 2021 – 2030 pledges that at least 70% – and up to 80% – of Ireland’s electricity will be provided by renewable sources by 2030. For that goal to be met, it’s likely Ireland’s offshore wind capacity will need to increase from around 25 MW today to 5 GW in future – an increase of 200.

Ireland’s geographic position provides several deepwater locations along the south and west coasts which, when coupled with extremely high winds, put Ireland in the unique position of being a potential global leader in offshore wind technology. 

But the level of planning in the Irish offshore wind sector doesn’t currently align with Ireland’s status as a potential global hub: “Meeting Ireland’s renewable energy targets is possible,” Professor Murphy says. “But right now, issues with the planning of offshore wind farms mean that it won’t be easy.

 

“Ireland wants offshore wind”

While the island of Ireland has nearly 400 onshore wind farms currently in operation, offshore wind is more productive than land-based turbines. Greater access to stronger and more consistent winds, with higher capacity factors, and the ability to build turbines two or three times bigger, all contribute to the fact that offshore wind produces more energy, at a more consistent rate, than its onshore equivalent.

The further offshore the turbines can be placed, the more power can be generated from them, but according to Professor Murphy, there is currently no planning authority in place in Ireland to authorise the construction of wind turbines more than 12 nautical miles from shore. This puts Ireland at an immediate competitive disadvantage with regional neighbours in the UK and Scotland, both of whom have planning systems for similar constructions.

As well as helping Ireland meet its ambitious green energy targets, offshore wind could create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the domestic supply chain, including in manufacturing, staging, installation, and operation maintenance. But none of that potential can be unlocked without the proper planning authority. 

Ireland wants offshore wind”, Professor Murphy says. “The Government is aiming for 70% of our overall energy production to be renewable by 2030, which much of that offshore, but there’s still no planning authority in place. That’s a problem.” 

“Equinor, a leading floating offshore wind developer, probably left Ireland due to lack of a planning authority to facilitate offshore wind construction. Again, a problem.

 

Planning is crucial to ambitious targets

While there are challenges involved in the construction of large-scale offshore wind farms, including electrical grid stability, the benefits far outweigh the costs: “We have so many natural resources in Ireland.” Professor Murphy says. “There are huge coastal areas where we can put up wind turbines that won’t be visible from shore and would help us generate large amounts of green hydrogen.”

Ireland’s ambitious climate targets, and the scale of the challenge we’re confronting in the looming climate crisis, means offshore wind shouldn’t be viewed as a single golden ticket to a sustainable future. It’s only one tool in a toolbox that will need to include sustainable aviation, greening the gas grid, and the decarbonisation of everything from Ireland’s agriculture sector to its manufacturing industry.

However, Professor Murphy maintains that getting plans for new offshore wind farms off the ground – and into the water – remains crucial. “The Government has interesting ideas.” Professor Murphy says. “It wants to massively increase electrification of energy from fuelling cars to heating houses, all of which is important. But none of it will be truly green as long as there is no planning system in place for wind turbines in the water.”

 

Dress well when you’re going bad

Moving the dial for climate action from talk to action and the need for every job to be a climate action job. 

By Harry O’Farrell, ActionZero Chief Commercial Officer 

When I look back to where my own career journey began in the electrical trades some 20 or so years ago, I had the privilege of working with what we call here in Ireland a character.

Billy was his name, he was a hard worker and an even harder drinker – fairly battered from decades in the trade, as tends to be the case with many tradesmen. He had an incredible ability to judge a person’s character, cutting through the bull, and seeing them for what they are.

Are they talking themselves up to be something greater than they are? Well as he used to say…  “dress well when you’re going bad.” 

Unfortunately, he passed away just over a year ago, and as with so many others who have passed during this horrible pandemic, we didn’t get the chance to give him a proper send-off. 

The send-off, or wake, is one of the things we do incredibly well in this country – family, friends and community coming together to celebrate someone’s life. 

We do many things well in this country, but also many not so well and when it comes to a firm commitment to climate action, unfortunately, our track record tells us it sits in the latter. 

 

It’s time to walk the walk

For too long when it comes to climate action we have talked the talk without walking the walk. Billy’s old saying is apt here, for sure we have been dressed well, but we were definitely going bad in terms of emissions reduction. 

This is evidenced by the fact we fell far short of our 2020 EU emissions reduction target of 20%, with approximately 7% realised. The drafting and publication of what is now the updated Climate Action Plan (CAP) is welcome from the government, as is the move to establish carbon budgets with individual sectoral targets across the economy. This commits Ireland to deliver a 51% emissions reduction by 2030, translating to an approximate 7% emissions reduction per year – the fact that emissions reduced by a meagre 3.6% in 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic where we had greatly reduced economic activity puts in stark focus the challenge ahead of us. 

The CAP provides a good high-level plan – but it is just that, high-level. What is desperately needed now is the detail on how we will execute each and every action listed in the plan. The government deserve credit for the uptick in our national ambition when it comes to climate action,  but the fact remains it is the least we should be doing when it comes to the global emergency of our time. 

Innovation, boldness and bravery when it comes to taking risks, in any economy, has naturally enough tended to come from the private sector. Just looking through the lens of the Cork region alone we see an explosion of innovative climate action businesses bringing solutions to address a range of critical climate action challenges. 

For example in offshore wind, we see the likes of our sister company Green Rebel Marine, DP Energy and Simply Blue, all blazing a trail for the sector. In the Green Hydrogen sector we see the likes of another of our sister company’s EI-H2, seizing the first-mover advantage in what will be a key enabling sector for Ireland to achieve our renewables and climate action target and, of course, our own ActionZero at the demand side helping consumers in the industry, enterprise and consumer markets to address another great challenge in decarbonisation of heat, with our patented heat pump system, the EscoPod.

What we need now is for the policymakers, legislators, and regulators to at the very least match, if not exceed, the level of innovation and boldness in decision making evident in the private sector, and most of all to do it with 10x the speed and urgency we have seen to date – the enabling policy and regulatory framework needed to address the climate emergency is just not moving quickly enough today. 

The speed of decision making taken to tackle the Covid emergency provides a useful comparison – to put it simply, the climate emergency is not being viewed for what it is, an emergency for humanity. We can look to the progress made at COP26 to see how politics is stifling the speed at which we need to move. 

We must move faster

So what are the challenges, how can we address them, and what is the scale of the opportunity? 

The need for speed is evident when it comes to all things climate action – from policymakers, legislators, regulators, down to each and every business, organisation and citizen of the country. 

We need leadership and fast – we can see it starting to come from climate action businesses like our own in ActionZero, the others I have already mentioned here and many others. We can see it in a general business sense with many making commitments to science-based targets, climate neutrality and net-zero. We see it in Cork with our industry-specific energy cluster Energy Cork, we see it from the citizens of the country with the explosion of new Sustainable Energy Communities popping up in every region. Now we need to see that matched and exceeded by those tasked with providing the enabling policy and regulatory framework that supports and rewards committed climate action from those in business and society at large. It is starting to come but must move faster if we are to achieve our goals. 

One of the great challenges we face will be our ability to ensure we have sufficient numbers of skilled tradespeople and STEM professionals. We are at the start of the climate action journey and there is already a shortage and huge competition in the marketplace for skilled labour in these areas, we see it every day in our own business. 

Opportunity for Ireland Inc is enormous 

When I started out in the electrical trade all those years ago, I had no idea I would end up where I am today, working in climate action. But the reality is, every job now needs to be a climate action job – if we are to succeed we need to hugely increase the numbers of people opting for trades as a viable career path. These are the people who will install our solar PV panels, our heat pumps, our building fabric, our electric vehicle chargers, our offshore wind farms, and they will be key to every sector of society taking strong climate action. 

If we get it right, the scale of the opportunity for Ireland Inc is quite simply enormous. Our offshore wind sector, with enabling supporting sectors such as green hydrogen, if adequately supported will create many thousands of jobs in a new industry, positioning us as a global leader in the space and securing our energy independence. 

Tackling the many decarbonisation challenges such as decarbonising heat, deployment of distributed renewable generation, electrification of transport and others will mean we will create ten’s of thousands of high skilled climate action jobs in every region of Ireland – coupled with the advent of remote working, this will be a boon for regional and rural Ireland. 

And that’s just the job’s aspect, we will have cleaner air and water, and most of all a sustainable future for our children and future generations. ActionZero stand’s ready to play our part in this journey, we have already doubled our workforce, we will double again next year and the year after, and we are just one of many.   

For too long Ireland has been a laggard compared to our EU peers when it comes to progress on emissions reduction and climate action. I find myself wondering will Billy’s old saying still ring true about our progress come 2030, will we still be merely dressed well but going bad when it comes to climate action? I’m optimistic about our chances – but we need to be creative, innovative, bold and brave in our thinking, and most of all, we must do it quickly. 

 

Never waste a good crisis

An opinion editorial from Action Zero CEO Denis Collins on why we should never waste a good crisis – as seen in The Evening Echo.

Never waste a good crisis – as the saying goes. Unfortunately, we are.   

And this is the motherlode of crises but also so of opportunity. I’m talking about climate action.  

This is a moment to seize and lead that could reap transformational outcomes for Ireland inc and generations to come – commercially, socially, academically. 

Examples include thousands of regional green jobs, demand for STEM professionals and highly skilled craftspeople, new clean energy sources, manufacturing, exports, FDI green brand, large business working closely with indigenous business for the next two to three decades. 

And equally important, making our planet a better place. 

It’s impossible not to be consumed by the scale of global impact. Majestic Californian redwoods in flames, half a billion creatures killed in Australian bushfires, “once in a generation” flooding occurring every three to five years, many parts of the world on the way to becoming uninhabitable.  

These are the consequences of many things, but nothing comes close to the damage visited on the planet by carbon emissions.   

The Boomer generation has seen a six-fold global increase in CO2 emissions in their lifetime. Nature’s capacity for absorbing and sequestering excess levels of CO2 emissions has long since been overwhelmed.

Industry, government, and the general population are all part of this as consumers, businesses and policy decision makers.  It’s us. 

The good news is that the world seems finally ready to act on a meaningful scale. Evidence of that new mindset is to be found in the flight of capital out of fossil fuels. 

Activist investors and legislators are forcing the issue. Among private and sovereign wealth funds, family offices, banks, pension funds, retail investors, cities and states, corporations – there have been many significant commitments of capital allocation. 

 A range of financial instruments including grants, carbon taxes and credits, tax-exempt green bonds, ESG-focussed funds and a range of others show real evidence of corporate and governmental intent. There’s a deficit of actionable projects by comparison with the value of those funds. 

Put in simpler terms, there’s lots of money available but we don’t quite know yet what to do with it. Nonetheless, the change in the funding environment is an important precursor to large-scale action.

It’s a start, but it’s too slow, and we need to accelerate. Ireland Inc faces our part in this challenge.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 makes the sobering declaration that “Ireland is way off course” and faces many challenges in meeting our commitments. The recently published climate bill enshrines in law our national commitment to reach net zero by 2050, with intermediate commitment to a 51% emissions reduction by 2030, 7% per year target. 

The scale of the challenge ahead of us was brought into stark focus in recent weeks with the publication of the EPA’s analysis on GHG emissions for 2020 – a 3.6% reduction in emissions may seem like progress, but the fact this was in the middle of a global pandemic with greatly reduced levels of economic activity puts our 7% per year target in even sharper focus. 

When it comes to climate action, Ireland has a track record of lagging far behind our European neighbours – we have missed our 2020 emissions reduction targets, and most of our renewable energy targets, with heat and transport posing a huge challenge. 

When it comes to heat, we fell well short of our 2020 goal of 12%, with only 6.3% realised. As with any great movement, it takes time for the systems to fit together and streamline. The problem is that we don’t have time. 

Decarbonising heat is the motherlode within the motherlode.  

It horizontally crosses industry and consumer massively, and solving this problem will make significant impact to CO2 emissions reduction. It’s vital we take this on and deploy joined-up thinking and solutions that remove fossil fuels – now. 

Technology will play a crucial role. Are we collaborating effectively, supporting solutions that are currently available to decarbonise heat?  I think not. 

Just as the climate crisis was created by many actions over a sustained period, improvements will come from a series of actions that combine to reverse the damage. 

Some will be large scale, policy-driven initiatives driven by governments and major corporations. Planning, regulatory frameworks will need to move more quickly.   

Examples include access to grid capacity for electrification, clustering opportunities for offshore wind, green hydrogen, and sources of large demand such as data centres need to be close to such clusters. Areas like West Cork are an example. We need to plan/work smarter. 

Smaller initiatives will have no less importance when combined. It all counts, and must accelerate.

Every action, no matter how small, that tilts the balance in the right direction should be embraced, copied and proliferated. If much of the damage was suffered through millions of ill-considered actions over time, much of the remediation can come from small actions carried out by enough people.

The financial services industry needs to step up. Government also needs to enhance the grant process. For example, we need to accelerate the speed of grants to industry to enable solutions. Similar to the financial services industry, the grant process needs to align to available decarbonising heat solutions/technologies. 

Simply put, we need grants issued more quickly, innovative funding arrangements that aren’t rooted in 10-year old thinking, policy frameworks with rapid action, relevant information campaigns. 

These moments don’t come along very often.  

Let’s not miss this incredible opportunity but also recognise that failure to deliver carries sombre consequences. 

Ireland has the ethos, skill, passion and track record to become a global leader.  

This opportunity matches our national psyche – monumental challenge to overcome, sustained commitment, global network and impact.  Punching above our weight.  Sound familiar?   It’s us.  

It’s a perfect storm moment – are we ready to seize it? 

To make sustainability happen, make it profitable

By Denis Collins, CEO at ActionZero

Yes, I used the “P” word.

When it comes to the strategic agenda, sustainability should take pride of place at the top of the priority list.

Just as it’s important for us to consider our own personal footprint on the world, companies should be no different.

A company is more than just a faceless entity.  It’s people. 

It’s a thriving community of individuals, forging forward towards a common goal. It’s only natural that sustainability should be an integral part of that. 

Why?

Not only is it good business, especially following COP26, but it can also have a positive impact on the bottom line. We as business leaders must continue to shape our solutions and portfolios in this direction. 

As CEO of ActionZero I know what my priorities are as I strive towards both personal and professional targets.

As a company proud to be a driving force behind Ireland’s net-zero future, it’s understandable and possibly easy for me to say that sustainability is integral to the success of our business. For others, it can be difficult to prioritise sustainability and deliver tight profit margins when trying to adapt to an ever-changing business landscape – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

 

Sustainability secures long-term value

Next to agility, sustainability is recognised as the most valuable strategy necessary to be competitive and grow a healthy business. Recognising the impact a business has on the world we live in isn’t just about taking responsibility, it’s about securing long-term value for stakeholders and satisfying their needs.

When we talk about stakeholders it isn’t just about board members and investors. Employees, customers, suppliers, communities, governments and trade associations are all stakeholders and it’s important to meet the needs of each of those individuals. It’s us. 

We must change our business mindset to focus less on the immediate financial profits of share prices and bonuses and instead consider a company’s wider footprint economically, socially and environmentally.

Instead of considering just one bottom line, we must consider three.

 

Do sustainable business practices need to come at a cost?

However, to make sustainability happen, we must strive to make it profitable. The proverbial “win-win”. 

People actively want to engage and buy from companies that do the right thing and companies with a clear sustainability plan will attract the best talent yet naysayers will claim that sustainable business practices come at a cost.

At ActionZero. we specialise in making sustainably work with the bottom line. Reducing waste, harnessing efficient energies and minimising carbon emissions isn’t something we can continue to discuss in the boardroom. It’s time to take action and we need to take it now.

The ActionZero EscoPod uses patented technology to provide a fully-funded turnkey solution to help businesses achieve their sustainability goals.

Our experts appreciate that no two definitions of sustainability are the same, which is why we’re committed to helping businesses of all sizes to integrate a plan, technology, and analytics into their current practices. 

The future of the planet is in our hands and to achieve real and meaningful change we all must play our part.

Sustainability is more than just a 9-5 job but it’s a good place to start if we’re to hit the bottom-line jackpot – socially, environmentally and financially. 

€9m for new research centre will help Irish agriculture align with Ireland’s sustainable future

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, confirmed during a recent trip to County Wexford that the existing Teagasc agricultural research centre in Johnstown Castle will be expanded and enhanced, with €9 million in funding having been committed to improvements that will help Irish agriculture operate more sustainably. 

Johnstown Castle is Ireland’s leading research centre for soils and the rural environment, and places a major focus on sustainability in the agricultural space. The institute concentrates its focus on soil fertility and the impact that farming practices have on the land in terms of soil and water quality, local ecosystems, and the recycling of waste.

It will now be the site of a new and improved National Agricultural Sustainability Research and Innovation Centre (NASRIC). The move is part of an ongoing effort to understand how we’re managing farms and agriculture in Ireland right now, and how we can adapt our agricultural practices in order to futureproof the industry and bring it into line with Ireland’s ambitious climate goals.

As the nation’s single biggest indiginous export, the agriculture and food industry is of major importance to Ireland’s economy. In fact, agriculture accounts for nearly 10% of the entire Irish economy. 

As well as being a huge part of Ireland’s industrial and economic output, agriculture holds an important place in our culture and heritage. Ireland is an island nation that has been farmed since prehistoric times. We value the vitality of our rural communities and want to keep them at the heart of our society for many years to come. 

That’s why, like many other industries before it, agriculture will have to adapt in order to survive. Earlier this month, Ireland launched a national Climate Action Plan which outlines how we will become carbon neutral by 2050, and pledges a 51% reduction in emissions as soon as 2030. Every industry will be impacted, and agriculture more than most. 

The agriculture sector was directly responsible for 37.1% of national Greenhouse Gas emissions in Ireland in 2020, mainly in the form of methane from livestock and nitrous oxide emanating from nitrogen fertiliser. 

Given the scale of emissions the sector produces, and the importance of agriculture not only to Ireland’s economy but to its sense of self, reaching net zero by 2050 will be extremely difficult without decarbonising the industry.

Decarbonisation is crucial to the future of Irish agriculture. With Ireland having committed to halving its emissions over the next decade, the industry will have to fall in line or fall by the wayside. Decarbonisation can be achieved by making changes to farming practices, but these changes must be implemented without having a negative impact on the industry’s ability to produce at scale.

That means finding cutting-edge solutions that meet the scale of the problem – something we specialise in at Action Zero.

The Action Zero EscoPod is a patented technology which delivers decarbonised heat. The process of heating water has an outsized impact on industrial carbon emissions, but the EscoPod generates heat in a way that eliminates the need for fossil fuels, and is integrated with an analytics platform that uses data to optimise efficiency and allow our clients to report on their transition to green, renewable energy. 

Put simply, the EscoPod helps organisations slash their carbon emissions without impacting their output. The technology allows agri-business to run efficiently while lowering greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80%.

Technology like the EscoPod plays a critical role in allowing sectors like agriculture to adapt in a way that moves us further along the road to net zero. But the existence of the technology isn’t enough. Just as important is its adoption.

Farmers can’t cut their emissions in half if they’re unaware of the technology that would allow them to achieve this. They can’t sanction the purchase of expensive kit if they can’t envision exactly how that technology will fit into their day-to-day process.

The leading thinkers in agricultural sustainability need to work hand-in-hand with the farmers on the ground if a more sustainable future is to be realised. That’s why announcements like the new NASRIC centre at Johnstown Castle are so important.

Knowledge is key, information is power, and education is the foundation of change. If we want to ensure that Ireland’s agricultural industry can adapt and evolve in a changing world, then we have to teach our farmers about the benefits of decarbonisation and help them access all the tools they need to achieve it.

With an expansion of NASRIC at Teagasc Johnstown, and the invaluable research that’s sure to follow, the Government has given Irish agriculture the best possible chance to adapt to the huge challenges facing farmers, and has taken another crucial step towards securing Ireland’s sustainable future.

Are humans better than bacteria?

By John O’Leary, Chief Technology Officer at ActionZero

After COP26, I am reminded of the typical growth curve of bacteria in a petri dish. There is the initial lag phase whilst the colony establishes itself, followed by exponential growth as the colony thrives. Then, as nutrients are depleted, and toxic by-products increase in concentration, comes the plateau and finally the death phase.

Look at planet earth – a giant petri dish. We are in a population growth phase. The human population is set to grow from 7.9 to 9 billion over the new few decades, but already we see the effects of diminishing resources, and toxic by-products. There is no doubt that the planet that we hand over to our children will be much different to the one we inherited. The rate of change is frightening and amongst many, there is a growing sense of helplessness that hasn’t been assuaged by COP26.

  • We are still intent on burning fossil fuels, which contributes massively to global warming.
  • The outputs from our growth are toxic. CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions are causing the climate to change. Plastics are poisoning the seas and sea life.
  • We need more land to allow for increased food production to feed the extra billions, yet the availability of arable land in decreasing due to climate change. Economic migration is more prevalent and will increase population densities in developed countries.

Most of population growth will be from the developing world, and as it develops, the requirement for energy and resource will increase exponentially. The inequity of climate change is obvious – the poorest are more vulnerable and will suffer more – and the irrelevant question about who is responsible, who should take responsibility, and how much, continues to be debated.

The problem is a global one, and the effort should be to identify the available technical solutions, and for the developed blocs to support their deployment wherever they are most effective, on a global scale.

 

Change must come from industry

Technology to decarbonise electricity production is well understood. Offshore wind, solar PV and even nuclear are all available and are being deployed. Transport will benefit from (green) electrification and (green) hydrogen.

The decarbonisation of heat is difficult. With heat, there is a hierarchy of demand-based loosely on the temperature range at which that heat is required.

Low/medium grade heat is required for space heating, hot water, and process heating. Heat pump technology is available for domestic, commercial and industrial users that require heat at temperatures up to 100°C and using green electricity, fossil fuels can and should be eliminated from this class of heating. In many cases, there are significant financial benefits that support the environmental benefits.

Higher temperature heating for some industrial processes remains problematic and either hybrid systems, direct electric or hydrogen-fuelled systems may be partial solutions.

The key is to incentivise the deployment of available technologies where they are most effective and to prohibit the use of fossil fuels where these viable alternatives exist.

In the west most ‘big’ energy is consumed by industrial and commercial operations. So, big answers and changes must come from industry. And industry is primed to make the change – it has the management structures; it is target driven; it is cost-driven, and its client base is demanding change.

For the foreseeable future, we will continue to use fossil fuels, but we need to use them only where there isn’t a green alternative, and we need to massively increase the efficiency with which we use them, working in tandem with other technologies to increase utilisation efficiency.

As far as I am aware, bacteria aren’t particularly intelligent, and can’t consciously invent new nutrient sources, or systems to avoid poisoning themselves. Neither do they have a social conscience. The guys in the most nutrient-rich part of the dish don’t care about those in the depleted toxic part. They don’t know that soon it will be them. Hopefully we’re better than that.

ActionZero expands operations with new offices

ActionZero plans to create 80 jobs as company doubles in size in last two months

Green energy company, ActionZero was joined by Minister for Public Expenditure, Michael McGrath as it launched its new office at Penrose Dock in Cork. ActionZero has grown significantly in the last two months and has doubled its workforce in that time. They now expect to grow to a workforce of 100 in three years from 10 at the start of the year.

ActionZero is strongly positioned to play a leading role in Ireland’s transition to a decarbonised economy over the forthcoming decade. It focuses on technologies and services dedicated to decarbonising heat. The company has developed a patented turnkey technology called the EscoPod which generates heat in a process that eliminates fossil fuel. In particular, it offers a solution for difficult and costly to decarbonise high-temperature heat across a range of market sectors. The technology is integrated with an analytics platform that uses data to optimise efficiency and report on the transition to green, renewable energy.

The CEO of ActionZero is Denis Collins, a former global executive with IBM and previous chairman of IDA Ireland Regional Development.

ActionZero presently has staff based in Cork and Kerry, with sales staff deployed throughout the island of Ireland. It’s expected to add a further 80 jobs over the next three years as demand increases for its services.

Minister for Public Expenditure, Michael McGrath said: “ActionZero is growing at a significant pace and this is testament to the dedication and skills of their CEO and team. It is fantastic to see them create such significant employment in Ireland and I wish them the very best with their future plans. Reducing our emissions is a key commitment of this Government as set out in the Climate Action Plan. Innovators like ActionZero will help provide solutions for industry and ensure that we are moving in the right direction to meet our emission reduction targets”

CEO of ActionZero, Denis Collins added: “We are delighted to be growing the company at such a quick pace. ActionZero solutions are enabling organisations to decarbonise heat, reduce carbon emissions drastically, and quite often pay for themselves. We have doubled the size of the organisation in the past 60 days, and plan to scale to 100 employees within three years. We have already closed a number of deals with multiple organisations across various sectors and are also in advanced negotiations with others.”

The EscoPod is coming to market at a time when companies are struggling to meet increasing demands to decarbonise existing facilities. Initial target companies include those in food, healthcare, hospitality, public sector and commercial sectors.

ActionZero is at an advanced stage of negotiations with a number of companies looking to deploy the new technology, which will enable their facilities to become fossil fuel free, generating their heat requirements emissions-free using green renewable electricity. ActionZero recently announced a €15 million Green Partnership with leading Irish food company, Kepak Group. The multi-million euro project will be delivered in Kepak’s Athleague, Co Roscommon facility, with plans to roll out the technology across the Kepak group. The initial project with Kepak is worth €2.3m and is expected to grow to a value in excess of €15m over 10 sites in the next two years as the technology is rolled out across the group.

The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Irish Government wants Ireland to cut its emissions by 51% by 2030.

Action Zero is one of a suite of green energy companies owned by businessman Pearse Flynn.

 

COP26: Less talk, more action

By Denis Collins, ActionZero CEO

All eyes turn to Glasgow as COP26 draws to a close.

Seeing the banks of the Clyde, once an industrial powerhouse, playing host to one of the most important summits in UK history has been remarkable.

This river and area, famous for its contribution to boating and ship building, is a metaphor for “what might be possible” – building a positive future for climate action.

The hype around the 26th UN Climate Conference has been palpable as world and industry leaders sit around the table at an event that has been described as our last, best chance to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

It was at COP21 in Paris in 2015 that the importance of striving towards a net-zero future first came to the world’s attention, and forced tangible pledges from investors, policymakers, and regulators – most crucially the pledge to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C with the signing of The Paris Agreement.

Six years later, the world is at a tipping point. While there’s no denying the importance of the high profile discussions at COP26, the urgency of the moment demands more than words. Simply put, now.

The impact of a temperature increase of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would be cataclysmic. Some nations, particularly island states, are at risk of being swamped by rising seas, while any rise over 1.5°C is projected to lead to catastrophic declines in yields of maize, rice, and wheat, all of which are essential not only for feeding livestock, but for feeding vast swathes of the world’s population.

Closer to home, if we continue at our current rate, large parts of the West of Scotland could be underwater by 2050. In this scenario, Glasgow International Airport, which has welcomed so many of the world’s leading thinkers on climate change over the last few weeks, is projected to be completely submerged. And given we lie just across the Irish Sea, Ireland won’t be immune from these extremely volatile weather patterns.

When you consider the human impact of climate change, life as we know it cannot and should not be the same after COP26. In the words of Greta Thunberg, it can’t be all ‘blah, blah, blah’. We need action.

The road to zero might have started in 2015, but further progress must be made if we are to facilitate real and meaningful change. And we’re running out of time.

So what does that progress look like?

We must quickly execute relevant working models between the private and public sectors if we are to harness the power of net-zero energy systems. Government with policy, infrastructure and investment. Industry with financial solutions, technology and analytics to execute results.

The private sector may well be able to carry the weight of investment into renewables and new technologies, but strategic investment in network infrastructure is also required.

And what better place to facilitate change than Ireland?

The decarbonisation of heat is a significant driver to reduce carbon emissions – across industry and consumer sectors.

It’s important to accelerate investment, technology and solutions that remove fossil fuels, while still enabling consistency in needs.

We must follow the example of those in the Irish technology sector, an industry with notable success in attracting inward investment from some of the world’s biggest tech brands, and create a green energy cluster in the Munster region.

The solution to the carbon crisis can be found on our shores if we pull together our knowledge, resources, and, most importantly, our ideas. At ActionZero, we’re creating and delivering solutions for a zero-emissions world. How? By leading a movement to design and deploy groundbreaking, self-funding, green energy solutions across industrial, enterprise, and consumer global markets.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, recently called on “all nations to enhance their climate action plans without delay until we are collectively on the right track.”   ActionZero is doing this now.

Only by partnering with like-minded businesses, striving towards the same goal, and creating a much-needed green energy cluster, can Ireland secure its place as a world leader in the fight against the climate crisis.

It’s time for less talk, and more action – it’s in our name, after all.

Action Zero announces key partnership with Kepak in €15m strategic energy solutions deal

ActionZero has announced a €15m strategic green partnership with the leading Irish-based international food company, Kepak.

The initial project with Kepak is valued at €2.3m at its Athleague plant in Co. Roscommon. This multi-million euro project will roll out across Kepak Group’s 10 sites in the coming years. ActionZero can achieve 60% cost savings and reduce energy requirements by up to 70% in the deployment of its unique innovative thermal heating and distribution system called the “EscoPod”.

Kepak group CEO Simon Walker said: “Kepak fully recognises the importance of taking strong climate action. The ActionZero EscoPod system will make a huge contribution to our 2030 group sustainability targets, delivering impressive cost savings and a strong return on investment. The project will play a key role in delivering our group sustainability strategy.”

The project will decarbonise heat and reduce carbon emissions by up to 90% eliminating over 3,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

ActionZero CEO Denis Collins said: “This is a landmark sustainability moment for the food sector – removing carbon emissions, increasing productivity, lowering cost.  To make sustainability happen, we need to make it profitable, and that’s exactly what we are doing with the ActionZero EscoPod. Kepak are taking a big step on their sustainability journey, supported by our ground-breaking EscoPod technology – we are delighted to be supporting them with this pioneering project for decarbonisation of heat in the food sector.”

ActionZero continues to make its mark on Irish and UK food manufacturers, and also provides solutions for the healthcare, hospitality and leisure sectors. From its new suite of offices in Cork city ActionZero provides technical engineering solutions together with consulting services including: energy management, procurement and risk management as well as project management expertise.

ActionZero and EuroFarms partner on food industry solution to reduce carbon emissions

ActionZero and Eurofarm Foods have announced a collaboration that will set out to decarbonise heat in the processing of meat.

A solution was designed and built in Ireland and was installed in the Duleek, Co Meath site with the objective of eliminating oil fired steam boilers from the site and reducing CO2 emissions and prime energy use. 

Eurofarm Foods CEO Michael Fox said: “Our number one priority is the food safety and quality of the food that we produce. Hot water demand for plant hygiene and sterilisation of equipment to ensure a clean production process for food safety was an enormous cost, both financially and environmentally.

“Now, with the EscoPod, we have massively reduced our energy use and carbon emissions, whilst improving control of our hot water requirements.”

General Manager of Eurofarm, Ciaran Boyle said “Decarbonisation of heat is not easy, but when you achieve it whilst also making financial savings and improving the process that guarantees food quality – it’s a win/win.

“We’re looking forward to the result of a review with ActionZero to determine the next step towards zero carbon.”

Due to grid constraints, the patented Hybrid EscoPod version was chosen. A heat-pump solution, powered with electricity generated by LPG driven microturbines, delivers water at >85°C. The existing oil-fired steam boiler was replaced entirely.

Also, the patented EscoPod blending system reliably manages the delivery of hot water to process at the various temperatures required. Financial savings of 65%, and CO2 savings of over 850 tonnes/yr. were achieved.

Denis Collins, ActionZero CEO said: “This is a pioneering moment for the food processing industry.

“This collaboration between ActionZero and Eurofarms has produced a ground-breaking moment for the decarbonisation of hot water and heat – significantly lowering emissions and cost – a perfect storm.

“We respect Eurofarm’s vision, industry leadership and courage. We will accelerate our ActionZero Escopod solution across industry.

“It also accelerates the ActionZero family of companies to support Ireland and beyond – a moonshot moment to decarbonise Ireland, build/deploy critical global export products and markets, deliver green hydrogen energy, accelerate renewables integration.”