Ireland’s electricity should be 70 per cent renewables by 2030, says wind farm group

Turbines

The Government should set an ambitious target for Ireland of producing 70 per cent renewable electricity by 2030, which would help transform the energy sector and benefit consumers, according to the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA). The call by the IWEA, which represents the wind industry – including the majority of windfarm operators in Ireland – is based on the findings of a study it commissioned which shows such a target was technically possible and, if achieved, would be cost neutral for consumers.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment should set this 70 per cent challenge for the renewable energy industry, said newly-appointed IWEA chief executive Dr David Connolly. Ireland had the required expertise built up over the past two decades “across academia, system operators, regulators, and the entire renewable industry to meet the target”, he told the IWEA spring conference in Dublin. Following a study by Baringa, UK consultants in energy and utilities, IWEA has published its “Energy Vision” for 2030. It highlights the risk of “a return to reliance on fossil fuels towards 2030 after the 40 per cent renewables target [for electricity] set for 2020 is met”.

World leader

The study concludes Ireland can continue to be a world leader in renewable electricity, particularly wind, but:

  • Wind power, “the least costly technology”, will need to more than double between 2020 and 2030.
  • 2,500 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity will be needed by 2030.
  • Construction of storage capacity in the form of 1,700 MW of new batteries by 2030 will be required.
  • Power plants need to become more flexible to adjust to fluctuations in wind and solar power, though an additional 1,450 MW will be delivered from interconnectors with Britain and France.

The group’s modelling confirms the possibility of not only providing clean power for the electricity sector, but renewable energy for heat and transport. It says “426,000 electric cars could be used instead of petrol/diesel, while 279,000 heat pumps could replace existing oil boilers in Irish homes by 2030”. Dr Connolly said a bright green future for Ireland was possible “if we have the ambition and the backing to grasp it . . . not only could our 2030 landscape be driven by clean, home grown renewables, but it will not cost more than using fossil fuels”. Up until now the EU target of 40 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 was the key driver for the Irish wind energy sector. The EU is currently evaluating what this target should be for 2030, which is expected to be finalised next year though the Government has yet to commit to a new target.

Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/business/energy-and-resources/ireland-s-electricity-should-be-70-per-cent-renewables-by-2030-says-wind-farm-group-1.3435536

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Brexit implications for business and the environment in Northern Ireland

Brexit

In addition to the 2020 renewable energy and environmental objectives, the EU has defined its new   objectives for 2030. They are a 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses, a 27% improvement in energy efficiency and a 27% share of renewable energy in the primary energy supply. This objective has been defined, including the United Kingdom and revolves around two main axes: the reduction of greenhouse gasses and the share of renewable energy in the energy supply. The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU will impact on the total commitment made for 2030.

It is unclear how this will affect Northern Ireland, which never had legally binding targets, but was expected to contribute to the overall UK commitment. Much of our Environmental and Renewable energy targets were driven by EU Directives and it remains to be seen if the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has not convened since January 2017, because of political issues, has the determination to continue to support the environment, and mitigate climate change.

Businesses in Northern Ireland have to cope with a great deal of uncertainty, even more so than their UK counterparts, because of the land border with Ireland. Over the last twelve months, since the vote for Brexit, there has little clarity about what might happen in Northern Ireland, because the political plans for the shape of Brexit have not yet been drawn up.

If, during the course of the last year, there was greater clarity about how Brexit might be delivered, then businesses could now be clearer about what they will need to do to cope with Brexit. It is remarkable that after a year, businesses probably know less about the future shape of Brexit than they did a year ago, because the roadmap is less clear and it has become even more unclear, because of the UK General Election. The level of uncertainty has increased over the year,  rather than diminished.

The issues surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive, in Northern Ireland, have created a situation where there now appears to be a low level of trust, in both Government circles, and within social society for renewable energy. It makes the work of GREBE even more relevant in Northern Ireland, than before, and highlights the need for future policy initiatives, to support RE businesses which are trying to survive and to grow.