For Niall McManus, an exploration geologist who has worked across the globe, two things have always been apparent: The need to live within our limited resources, and people’s need to improve their own lives.
Niall believes that the first step to economic empowerment is provision of electrical power. He holds a primary degree in geology and has over 20 years’ experience in Ireland, South East Asia, North America, southern and East Africa, working within both private industry and central government.
Small-scale renewable energy gives communities the opportunity to manage limited resources, generate an income and, in the Developing World, provides the essential first step to economic empowerment. A successful renewable energy industry will be good for Ireland too, fostering the knowledge economy, employment and exports.
Niall’s project was ReEnPower, an investment fund for R&D into small-scale renewable energy technologies. These technologies were to benefit communities both in Ireland and the developing world. The technology was developed by Irish firms where possible and made affordable by methods such as micro-finance. The fund minimized profits to guarantee low cost products.
Following Niall’s 2008 Award for his project for promoting the adoption of energy efficient technology and small-scale renewable energy, ReEnPower established Cosain, a Domestic Offset Market in Ireland for trading Irish originated carbon and biodiversity credits with Irish buyers. Niall has been appointed twice by the Irish High Court as the Expert to oversee the environmental rehabilitation of unauthorised developments in the extractive industry. He has also been involved in the program development and evaluation of initiatives in both the public and private sector, together with the For Impact Sector in Climate Action.
He is the founder and director of Earth Route ltd, initially established to provide expertise in the development and delivery of recreational activities that are sustainable and accessible. It is still active in this area with the completion this year of a Part VIII for the Deise Greenway for Waterford County Council. Earthroute has developed as a Program Development consultancy providing both technical and financial skills to clients exploring new market opportunities, either geographically or sector, in Africa. In 2014 EarthRoute received funding from Enterprise Ireland and are working with the DCU Insight Centre for Data Analytics to develop a real-time web business intelligence service for Africa. Niall has been appointed as an Expert for the European Commission to evaluate Horizon 2020 Call - SC5-2014-13b ‘Strategic international dialogues and cooperation on raw materials with technologically advanced countries’, and will be travelling to Brussels in May as part of his role.
1.6 billion people have no access to electricity. They are a potential market for cheap renewable energy that is not dependent on a national grid.