Solar-powered pub uses renewable energy to beat cost-of-living crisis

The Old Oak in Cork is self-generating a significant proportion of its energy needs through almost 100 solar panels on its roof.

David Young
Friday 23 December 2022 11:24 GMT
Kevin Cottrell (left) and Eoin Aher, with the solar panes at The Old Oak, Cork (Darragh Kane/PA)
Kevin Cottrell (left) and Eoin Aher, with the solar panes at The Old Oak, Cork (Darragh Kane/PA)

An eco-friendly Irish pub powered by solar panels is reaping the rewards of renewable energy amid the inflation crisis.

While other hospitality businesses are being hit with soaring electricity bills, the Old Oak in Cork has managed to limit the impact through its adoption of solar power.

The bar has installed almost 100 solar panels on its roof and is now self-generating a significant proportion of its energy needs.

Kevin Cottrell, who has worked in the pub for 25 years, admitted he was sceptical about the potential of renewable energy when he first started investigating solar power.

“I thought we don’t have enough sunlight in Ireland, there are too many cloudy days but it’s actually light, not sun, that you need,” he said.

Pub owner Ger Kiely was the driving force behind the adoption of the green energy source.

“My boss was always a convert, I was a sceptic but the more work I did on this, I am a total convert now, you can see the benefits all round,” said Mr Cottrell.

“My message would be don’t be afraid of the unknown.

Solar does pay back. You aren’t going to get a massive amount every day of the week, but it all adds up over time and, if everyone does it, it reduces our dependency on fossil fuels and gives you a better environment, a better climate for yourself and your family and the next generation coming ahead.”

Mr Cottrell, who is the business’s accountant, said they were initially looking at an eight year period to pay back on the investment of installing the 96 panels.

But he said the hike in overall electricity costs due to the inflation crisis has slashed the projected pay back timeframe to three years.

The Old Oak, which comprises a bar, live music venue and cafe, is now working with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to examine ways it can generate even more renewable energy.

Drinks giant Guinness recently struck a partnership with the SEAI to raise awareness of supports available for the hospitality industry to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint.

Guinness is highlighting the experience of the Old Oak as an example of what can be achieved.

The pub is currently investigating the potential to install other environmentally friendly measures, such as solar roof tiles and a system to harvest rainwater.

“Once you start, it’s like, OK we did one thing, what’s next, how far can we go,” said Mr Cottrell.

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