Charging point on Lyster Square in Portlaoise.
Portlaoise is to become Ireland’s first Low Carbon Town, but it will largely rely on energy from wind turbines to really tackle climate damaging carbon emissions.
A special survey commissioned to examine the town has revealed that starting to switch to electric vehicles would make only a marginal improvement, but switching to wind generated electricity would reduce emissions by 34% in a decade.
If one fifth of diesel cars are replaced by electric cars by 2030, it will cut emissions by 4% for Portlaoise.
Five wind turbines would supply enough green electricity for the whole town, the survey found.
Portlaoise Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley who is on the low carbon committee.
“We are trying to achieve 7% cuts per year. We would achieve the targets if we had turbines and solar panels on rooftops. To me it was very interesting that the deep retrofit of homes saves 16%. For all the talk of electric cars it would save 4%. I’d have thought that electric cars would have saved more. We certainly have a lot of challenges on our hands,” she said.
The survey prepared by Siemens/Avanta for Laois County Council found that Portlaoise town with 23,000 residents emits 100,000 tonnes of carbon per year, four tonnes per person.
It says that 200 trees are needed to absorb 4 tonnes of carbon a year.
Of the carbon currently emitted, 37% is emitted from homes, 33% from industry and businesses. Personal transportation is another 20% and commercial transportation 10%.
Solutions given are switching to wind energy, insulating homes, adding solar panels and switching to electric vehicles.
Insulating all pre 1980 homes in Portlaoise, at least 2,000 homes, to a B2 level would cut 16% of emissions. The solar rooftop panels and PV modules would cut another 18%.
The study was limited to emissions from energy use and did not include secondary emissions from consumption of products.
A full report will be published in April but the initial results were revealed at the Laois County Council March meeting.
Portlaoise is chosen for a Low Carbon Town initiative supported by the Government in Project Ireland 2040.