Irving Oil and Simply Blue Group announce plans to explore renewable energy hub in Ireland
12th October 2022

Driving towards clean, secure and affordable energy for Ireland

Chairperson of Renewable Energy Ireland, Tanya Harrington, calls for a redoubling of efforts to urgently remove barriers to the faster deployment of renewable energy.

The last seven years were the warmest on record globally and, this year, Europe experienced its warmest summer on record. Today, following Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the dangers of our dependency on fossil fuels are more starkly revealed than ever before.

The EU has long been a leader in tackling the climate crisis. Now, that objective aligns with Europe’s urgent need for energy security. In May 2022, the EU set out REPowerEU, its plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and accelerate the green transition.

It is within this context that Ireland is working to address three overlapping challenges. Firstly, Ireland’s reliance of 85 per cent on fossil fuels means that we are particularly exposed to international geopolitical events. Secondly, Ireland has rightly declared a biodiversity and climate emergency but significant emissions reductions remain to be achieved. And finally, Irish families and businesses are experiencing record high energy prices owing to the war in Ukraine, coupled with known generation adequacy issues on this island for the months and immediate years ahead.

These interlocking crises must energise our efforts to build an Ireland that can rely on clean, secure and affordable energy. This requires a radical and rapid scale-up in renewable energy, faster decarbonisation of the heating sector and dramatic improvements in energy efficiency, demand reduction and the use of low and zero-carbon transport.

Renewable Energy Ireland’s vision is that by 2050 Ireland will be energy independent through using indigenous, clean, carbon-free renewable energy supported by, and supporting, communities across Ireland.

For this to be achieved, our members have identified five priority areas for actions:

  • firstly, the delivery of grid infrastructure is of foundational importance. Put simply, we cannot decarbonise our economy without new and upgraded grid infrastructure, which is the backbone for electrified transport and other services;
  • secondly, we need to update our planning system to implement REPowerEU, including the requirement that EU member states decide on environmental permits for projects within two years from the time a developer files an application and the establishment of ‘go-to’ areas where renewable energy development will be explicitly encouraged, and to issue permits in those areas within one year of the application being filed;
  • thirdly, we need to decarbonise our building and industrial sectors by simplifying the administrative and regulatory requirements for energy efficiency, renewable heat and demand flexibility and storage technologies;
  • fourthly, we need to decarbonise our transport emissions, by delivering on the government ambition of over 940,000 electric vehicles in 2030, while supporting remote working, public transport, cycling infrastructure and further decarbonisation measures; and
  • finally, we need to bring industry, government and other key stakeholders together, to identify ways to cut the price of renewable energy in Ireland to deliver clean power at the lowest possible price for Irish consumers.

To enable all of this to happen, Ireland must produce an ambitious renewable energy industrial strategy to develop necessary port infrastructure and a local supply-chain to help address the skills gap in trades, planning, marine, environmental sciences, sustainable finance and engineering.

We know how to do this and we know it will ensure a cleaner, more secure and more affordable, supply of energy to homes, communities and businesses across Ireland. The renewable energy industry will continue to play our part in leading Ireland’s energy transition. We call on all stakeholders to redouble our collective efforts to urgently remove the remaining barriers to the faster deployment of renewable energy.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of its gas supply has been met with a European unity of purpose and response. That unity, the strength of democracies coming together behind a shared goal, is essential to successful navigation of these crises.

It must be directed towards a new, energy-independent, Europe, one which will be built on the foundations we, governments and the renewable energy industry, lay together today.

Tanya Harrington is Chairperson of Renewable Energy Ireland and Chief Regulatory Officer with An Post. Renewable Energy Ireland is a partnership of sustainable energy associations working collectively to support energy security and the transition to net zero in Ireland.

W: renewableenergyireland.ie