Anticipation at Gurteen College ahead of sustainability awards

Gurteen College in Co. Tipperary is preparing to attend the 2018 Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Awards at the Mansion House, Dublin, on Thursday, October 25.

Choosing from 31 finalists, there will be nine awards to be presented on the night.

A statement from Gurteen College said the finalists have gone well beyond the norms of sustainable energy best practice, demonstrating leadership and high levels of innovation with strong potential for replication.

Finalists from large businesses to communities, researchers and public sector bodies, have all been said to achieve significant energy demand reduction or clean energy deployment.

Mike Pearson, principal, Gurteen College

The 2018 SEAI Energy Awards aims to highlight the extra effort made by organisations and individuals in advancing Ireland to a cleaner energy system.

By awarding high achievement, the SEAI hopes to communicate to others what is possible if determined.

The energy saving measures at Gurteen College include the installation of a wind turbine and bio-mass boiler.

Gurteen College changed an area of land use from cereal production to planting 80ac of willow.

One third of the willow is harvested annually in rotation, fuelling its bio-mass boilers which provide 80% of the heating for the college each year.

PV Panels

186 photovoltaic (PV) panels were positioned in 2017 on the roof of the horse arena. According to the college, the main difference between photovoltaic panels and solar thermal panels is that PV directly converts the sun’s light into electricity.

Solar thermal panels heat water from the sun’s energy. A statement from the college has said that PV systems have some significant advantages over solar water heating systems in that they are easier to design, install, operate and maintain.

A total of €45,000 was invested into the installation of the PV panels and it is anticipated that they will produce over 40,000kW of electricity each year, leading to a saving of between €7,000 and €8,000 per year.

A new smart LED lighting system was also installed to all the main buildings and arenas with a total cost of €160,000, with a 50% grant by SEAI.

Milking Parlour

Energy efficient work and sustainability has continued in the recently opened new dairy with a variety of measures.

Some of the features of the new dairy that contribute to reducing its carbon footprint include:
  • Variable speed vacuum pump;
  • Plate cooler heat recovery from milk (which will be used to heat a classroom in the near future) with the water then being used to supply stock drinking water;
  • Heat recovery from bulk tank cooling;
  • Rainwater harvesting.

The college has said its sustainability achievements would not have been possible without the support and funding from Tipperary Energy Agency and the SEAI.