|Nissan Ireland's sustainable headquarters.|
That the ice-cream was being dispensed from an electric-powered Nissan van, with refrigeration energy from recycled EV batteries charged by solar panels on the van roof was just one point. The other was that the ice-cream, from top Scottish maker Mackie's, was produced in a dairy where all the energy is provided by solar and wind power.
The exercise was part of the official opening today of Nissan Ireland’s new HQ in the Park West business campus, by Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
|James McCarthy, CEO Nissan Ireland, and Minister Bruton.|
“We have been at the forefront of electro-mobility for ten years,” Nissan Ireland CEO James McCarthy said at the event. “We recognised that we were maybe being a bit preachy about it, and decided to have a look at our own sustainability performance.”
With the various elements of Nissan Ireland Group being in the same building, it was decided to refurbish it with sustainability in mind.
The solution involved two strands — increasing the renewable energy supply to the building, and decreasing demand for electricity within it.
The first was taken care of by the solar panels, and indirectly by the X-Storage and EV car batteries ‘mobile energy hubs’. The second related to the use of energy-efficient lighting and smart controls, plus other details such as providing secure bicycle storage and showers for cycling staff, to encourage more of them to use bicycles. The company is also increasing the number of electric vehicles in its own fleet.
The solar panels used were chosen for quality and durability and have an estimated life of 30 years. The payback period for the installation is expected to be just five years.
“Ireland is surprisingly good for solar power,” Ms Rawicz said at the launch event. “It is an almost perfect climate, with low ambient temperatures and long summer daylight hours.”
The potential output is 100kW of peak power, and Nissan Ireland estimates that the solar power will represent 41pc of annual electricity demand in the building.
“It will save 38,000 kgs of CO2 emissions in the first year, and a million kgs over the lifetime of the system,” Ms Rawicz said. “In the first 10 days of operation, it had the same effect as what 50 trees would have done in absorbing CO2. And the projected savings for the company is €600,000.”
The X-Storage battery systems are designed for home-owner and business use, and are being trialled at the moment in the UK. It is understood that they will be made available in Ireland probably next year. No price has yet been given.
James McCarthy said it was incumbent on the entire business community in Ireland, and all government departments, to audit their carbon footprint and take the necessary steps to reduce it.
Minister Bruton said it was a ‘sad truth’ that we have for generations been doing things that are leading to ‘irreversible changes’ on the planet. “We do need to make changes in our lives, and the new Nissan HQ is a great example of some of those changes.”
He added that three-quarters of the things that we need to do to meet the emissions and energy commitments for 2030 can ‘pay for themselves’ in the long view. But he urged the financial services community to help meet the ‘difficult challenges’ for people and businesses having to manage the upfront costs of what meeds to be done.
“We have been down this road before,” the Minister added. “We had an ambition for 2020 but it failed. This time we must do it properly. We have laid the foundations at political level, but the real challenge is how we can do things in our homes and businesses and every other way so that we can reach our destination.”
The goals, he said, were to have homes and farms and enterprises that are ‘resilient’ ... that Irish people are saying they want to make them resilient ... so that the planet is resilient’.