Ireland will generate enough renewable energy by 2040 to effectively cover 100% of the nation’s energy requirements, according to Peter Harte, chairperson of the Irish Wind Energy Association’s Markets Committee. He also sees Ireland becoming a carbon-free power and transport nation, with most, if not all, of our current fossil fuel plants decommissioned by then.
“While there may still be some fossil fuels used in shipping and aviation, we could easily generate and export so much wind energy by 2040 from Ireland that the net effect is that we are 100% powered by renewable energy by then,” he explains. “Fossil fuel plants run for 30 to 45 years so decisions we made, even in the last few years, are already determining our energy mix in the years ahead. So much has been concentrated at an Irish and EU level on meeting 2020 targets that there is an energy policy vacuum beyond that and we really need to start thinking ahead.”
He continues: “Europe has already published its ‘Roadmap to a low carbon society’, which outlines the need for a fully decarbonised power sector by 2050 and we need to start thinking and acting long term as well, not least as this presents both challenges and opportunities for Ireland. If we are to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2050, then no new carbon-emitting plants can be built after 2015. If electricity then is carbon-free, we can potentially have a decarbonised transport system.”
Other elements of his 2040 energy vision include:
* A decarbonised heating system by virtue of heat pumps delivering 4kW of green heating output for only 1kW of green electricity input.
* A reduction in energy demand by 20-30% due to energy efficiency initiatives (principally electric vehicles, heat pumps and insulation).
* Ireland will be heavily interconnected with European electricity (and hence energy) markets.
* Ireland will contribute vast quantities of the renewable energy – wind, tidal and wave – requirements for Europe as we will produce it cheaper than anywhere else.
* In return Ireland will purchase flexible low carbon energy from Europe (solar from Spain, nuclear from France, hydro from Norway, biomass from Eastern Europe etc.).