The Paris-based International Energy Agency, the
energy watchdog for 28 industrialised countries including Ireland, said today
that Ireland needs to develop a range of large infrastructure projects in order to
meet its ambitious targets for renewable energy. The agency said in a review of
Irish energy policies, that to meet ambitious energy
targets to move itself towards a low-carbon economy, Ireland needs to
break its heavy use of imported fossil fuels and invest even more in renewable
technologies, expand grid integration and improve energy efficiency.
|Pat Rabbitte, minister for energy and IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven, Dublin, July 11, 2012.
"At a time when many governments are shying away from their commitments to clean
energy, Ireland has courageously resisted the temptation to scale back its own,"
IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said today in Dublin as she released
the new study, 'Energy Policies of IEA Countries - Ireland 2012' (not available
online). "A lot has been
achieved, yet there is more to do. Now is not the time for complacency."
Ireland, whose location gives it some of the best wind and ocean energy
resources in Europe, plans to produce 40% of its electricity from renewable
sources by 2020, one of the highest targets in the world.
The second pillar of Ireland's decarbonisation strategy relies on the
development and optimisation of energy efficiency and research and development
into "demand-side management" technologies. The National Energy Efficiency
Action Plan outlines 90 measures and actions to be implemented in order to
achieve 20% energy savings as of 2020.
The IEA says funding of energy-focused research and development is strong, despite Ireland's
recent economic downturn, and the country has become a world leader for smart
grid deployment, a key means to reaching ambitious targets in the deployment of
clean generation and end-use technologies, such as variable renewable energies
and electric vehicles.
The IEA said
Ireland is highly dependent on imported oil and gas. While the push to develop
renewable energies is commendable, the report warns, it will result in an
increased reliance on natural gas, as gas-fired power plants will be required to
provide flexibility in electricity supply when wind power is unavailable. Two-thirds of Ireland's electricity already comes from gas-fired generation,
which adds to energy security concerns, particularly as 93% of its gas supplies
come from a single transit point in Scotland. The country must successfully
develop a range of gas and electricity infrastructure projects and market
solutions while continuing to integrate its energy markets with regional
Regional integration is an ongoing development, in line with the European
Union's target model. Ireland has successfully implemented the all-island
Single Electricity Market (SEM) with Northern Ireland, fostering genuine
competition among suppliers. Increased interconnection with the island of Great
Britain is underway. In the gas market, the governments of Ireland and Northern
Ireland are developing a Common Arrangements for Gas (CAG) framework.
IBEC’s head of Environment and Energy Policy Dr Neil Walker said: "IBEC supports
the transition towards a low-carbon economy, but we need an integrated energy
and climate change policy. Delays
to critical electricity network projects are costing consumers €30 million a
year in constraint costs. The Government must provide leadership by developing
national planning guidelines for projects of this type to ensure public support
and to avoid unnecessary delays and associated costs.
"IBEC agrees with the IEA that the way in which carbon tax revenue is used in
meeting economic and environmental objectives should be transparent and open to
scrutiny. Some revenue from taxing carbon should be ring-fenced and recycled
back to business through energy initiatives that address emission reduction
objectives, while at the same time boosting competitiveness."
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