No more bluster – we need fast action for wind energy to deliver on potential
STORM Hugo and its ferocious gusts serve as a powerful reminder that Ireland will shortly face a multi-million-euro bill for falling to reach our 2020 renewable energy targets. The Irish taxpayer will have to spend as much as €400m in credits to offset our total carbon emissions.
The good news is that wind energy has helped reduce our noncompliance bill by close to €500m.
However, to achieve the higher targets that will have to be set for
2030, the Government will need to set out on a bold new path.
Wind energy is on course to produce almost half of Ireland’s
2020 renewables targets. This was achieved because of foresight and forward planning by government and industry 10-15 years ago.
However, the same preparation for 2030 has been absent politically and there is only a short window of time left for the Government to set out its stall if renewables are to deliver for 2030.
To address this pressing issue, the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) recently called on Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Denis Naughten to be determined and ambitious by setting a 70pc renewable electricity target for the year 2030.
This challenge was informed by a recent study by independent business and technology consultancy Baringa, which indicated that setting this target will ultimately make it cheaper for the consumer by improving Ireland’s energy independence and by boosting our economy with jobs and domestic growth instead of continuing to rely on fossil fuels.
We should not wait for Europe to set a 70pc target, but instead set this challenge ourselves to ensure we continue to grow our economy whilst ensuring a clean environment.
IWEA has set out a vision that shows how renewables can deliver for 2030.
What will be required is more onshore wind and offshore wind, solar and the development of flexible technologies such as batteries and interconnectors.
The result will be clean electricity that will provide power and heat for not just our homes and businesses, but also the fuel for our cars.
Thankfully, we are not alone in our ambition. A 2017 study by IWEA showed 84pc of people favoured wind energy while also showing a high level of understanding of the benefits. Only 3pc of people were strongly against. Independent research carried out by the ESRI and NUIG also produced similar reporting outcomes.
The Citizens’ Assembly produced a report setting out a vision for Ireland as a climate change leader together with specific recommendations related to renewables. These recommendations, together with public surveys, show intent on the part of the people of Ireland, which must not be left on a shelf by our politicians.
While there continues to be strong public support for wind energy, the companies developing this infrastructure recognise the importance of comprehensive engagement with communities about proposed windfarms.
This means responsible and comprehensive community engagement as pre-conditions for future wind energy development.
TO assist with the transformation of the country into a low carbon economy by 2030, a community benefit fund of €2/MWh has been proposed. This means that in future a
3MW wind turbine will provide approximately €250,000 to a neighbouring community over a
IWEA is committed to forms of community ownership of projects, though more work is required to minimise potential risks to communities.
Today, as we celebrate ‘Global Wind Day’, it is worth recognising that Ireland is already a world leader when it comes to wind energy. In 2017, we were ranked number three in the world for the share of electricity demand that was met by wind.
However, the Government must now step up and broaden its ambition and vision. There cannot be any more delays or procrastinating about what might be done because the work to deliver for 2030 needs to begin now.
More onshore and offshore wind, solar and power and flexible technologies are needed to reach IWEA targets by 2030