ell, it turns out that, just sometimes, the cover story is stronger than a whole plethora of emails.
Noticing that solar panels had been abandoned at the new Gorteen development in Delgany, we got in touch with the powers that be.
Namely, Wicklow Planning, who had approved the original planning application and then, more recently, approved a series of changes to that agreed plan. Including the turfing out of those solar panels on each house.
We also tried emailing D/Res Properties, the developers behind Gorteen Way. Answers came there none, other than a cut & paste link back to the planning decision from Jackie Carroll, Senior Executive Officer of Planning, Development and Environment at Wicklow County Council.
Now, three days after that Guide article appeared, Robbie McGrath, Head of Sustainability with D/RES Properties, sent us the following explanation…
In response to Greystones Guide request for clarification relating to the changes in the original design of the homes in Bellevue.
The original design included heating generated by a gas boiler and solar panels (PV) were included in order to meet the Part L requirements. The current design has removed the installation of solar panels (PV) to meet Part L energy requirements and will instead promote the use of smart solar systems with our Positive Living development model.
In line with the Wicklow County Development Plan 2016-2022 and the National Climate Action Plan 2021 the homes have been designed to remove reliance on fossil fuels for heating and reduce the carbon emissions of the homes throughout their lifecycle. The gas boiler has been replaced with energy-efficient heat pumps and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery to meet the requirements of Part L. The inclusion of heat pumps in the design will support the National Climate Action Plan goal of installing 600,000 heat pumps by 2030.
The homes are designed in line with Passive House specifications to achieve a minimum BER A2 rating with the option to increase this to BER A1 with the addition of the Positive Living upgrade. This upgrade will allow the new homeowners to install a turnkey renewable energy system that will future proof their home in the transition to a low carbon nation. The Positive Living upgrade comprises of solar panels (PV), a battery (minimum of 7.5kW), a smart energy management system and electric vehicle (EV) charging point, supporting the national targets for 1 millions electric vehicles by 2030. The installation of the system shall enable the homeowner to reduce their electricity and heating bills by up to 55% per year.
The removal of the solar panels (PV) from the original design was to enable the homeowner to choose a more effective renewable energy package than stand-alone solar panels (PV). With the combination of the solar panels (PV) and a battery, all electricity generated from the panels can be utilised by the home, since the battery stores the electricity from the solar panels (PV) to be used when needed. With solar panels (PV) alone, electricity generated during the day when people are at work would otherwise be fed into the electricity grid rather than used in the home.
The smart energy management system controls all energy use in the home and allows the generated electricity to be stored in the batteries and used at peak times. This system will reduce the impact of the home on the national electricity grid through electricity demand management at peak times, as the battery rather than the national grid will provide electricity at these times. The system will also reduce the impact of potential grid power cuts on homeowners as the battery can be used at these times.
The design of Bellevue will enable home owners to have more control over their energy management and also meet national targets for 1,500 micro grid communities by 2030. All homes which install the Positive Living upgrade, will have the ability to share excess renewable energy with their Bellevue neighbours through peer to peer community microgrid, which is controlled through their smart energy management system.
The Positive Living upgrade is utilised in the Tinakilly development in Rathnew. The development will be a community microgrid with a renewable energy generation of up to 2MW, which will not only reduce the national grid energy demand at peak times but also enable homeowners to sell excess self-generated renewable electricity to the grid through newly introduced feed-in tariffs.
Sustainability is at the core of the design of the Bellevue Community development, which includes not only energy efficiency and self-generation but also the whole lifecycle impacts of the materials and the building technologies used. This approach provides future proof homes which use less energy, save people money, reduce their carbon footprint and help support the local and national climate change targets for 2030 and beyond.
Makes you wonder, why couldn’t Wicklow County Council have provided just such an explanation in the first place. They’re the fat kid with the ball, ultimately determining the rules of the game. And the score.
And however hard or difficult a job planning might be, why make it harder…?
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