The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has stated that the ESRI ‘Review of Irish Energy Policy’ is an important reminder that Ireland is far too dependent on importing its energy supply from other nations and needs to accelerate the move towards maximising our own resources. However, responding to the report, IWEA chief executive Dr Michael Walsh says that any reduction in current supports would undermine investment, cost jobs and result in Ireland potentially failing to meet its EU 2020 renewable energy targets.
“A reduction in supports would most definitely be a major setback for a sector that is more than justifying these same supports but is going to deliver savings to the consumer and create export revenue for Ireland in the future as well. A recent study by international energy analysts Redpoint on the Irish market showed that wind energy generation will deliver savings to Irish consumers of Eur100m by 2020. This demonstrates that wind generation does not add cost in today’s market let alone in the future when we can become an exporter of renewable energy,” he points out. “In that regard, any reduction in the current supports will be a set-back. It will deny investment and, therefore, potentially lead to higher prices, higher emissions, continued imported fuel dependence and a missed opportunity to create thousands of new jobs.
He continues: “This ESRI report, if anything, reaffirms that we are way too dependent on external sources of energy, with approximately 89% of our energy requirement being imported, and justifies the need for accelerating our wind energy programme. What we need now is to develop our own unique resources as quickly as possible to reduce this excessive dependency on what are long term unreliable and, from a price perspective, volatile international energy sources.”
Ireland has strong onshore and offshore wind resource yet last year, due to a lack of co-ordination, Ireland saw only 115MW of onshore wind built – approximately a third of what needs to be built annually to meet our targets. The IWEA is calling on the Government to introduce a co-ordinated energy and enterprise implementation plan to ensure we deliver as much capacity as possible and to develop a major income stream for Ireland by becoming a leading European exporter of wind energy.
“Specifically, we can ensure that Irish projects play a part in meeting the UK’s energy needs as we will have the resources to meet over 15% of the UK’s 2020 renewable requirements in a highly cost effective fashion for UK consumers. This would result in additional jobs and investment in Ireland and ongoing export revenues,” says Michael Walsh.