Renewable energy has saved Ireland more than €1bn – SEAI

18 Feb 2014

Renewable energy has saved Ireland more than €1bn in fossil fuel imports, cut CO2 emissions by 12m tonnes, and does not raise electricity prices, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) reported.

Dr Brian Motherway, CEO of the SEAI, said wind energy is delivering for Ireland as the country’s greatest indigenous energy resource.

This resource needs to be exploited for the benefit of the Irish people, he added.

“This is all about making Ireland more energy independent – harvesting our own resources instead of importing the expensive resources of others,” Motherway said.

He noted many arguments have been put forward questioning the case for more wind-energy development in Ireland, but said these arguments are not based on fact. Many people are concerned about renewable energy proposals in their communities and there are undoubtedly places where wind farms should not be built, he added.

“People are entitled to raise all the concerns they may have and a full and open debate is essential. However, false information only serves to worry people further,” Motherway said.

“That is why we have a transparent and functioning planning process, which has proven itself capable, time and again, of making objective decisions.”

Motherway pointed out that Ireland is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels, spending €6.5bn per year on such imports.

“This creates risk, and bleeds large amounts of money from the domestic economy.”

Renewable energy benefits for Ireland

Yet he also pointed out the benefits of renewable energy.

Firstly, those who argue wind energy is expensive and unnecessary are wrong, he said.

“Because Ireland has such a good wind-energy resource, we can get cheap clean electricity from it. Making comparisons with other countries about wind effectiveness is not always valid,” he said.

“Ireland has a uniquely strong resource. We have one of the lowest support regimes and wind is not raising electricity prices.”

Secondly, Ireland growing its use of renewable energy is vital for its national competitiveness, giving it greater control over its energy prices.

“Less reliance on fossil fuels gives us greater certainty on our energy prices, rather than leaving us at the mercy of international commodity price rises,” Motherway said.

Motherway was speaking at the publication by SEAI of Renewable Energy in Ireland. The report shows good progress towards the country’s renewable targets, with more than 7pc of Ireland’s energy demand coming from renewables in 2012 resulting in €250m less expenditure on imported fossil fuels.

“For the past decade, we have successfully developed wind farms around Ireland in tandem and with the support of communities,” said Motherway. “Billions have been invested and thousands of jobs created. There should be no free-for-all.

“We need a careful and considered approach which is transparent and that involves meaningful consultation and local benefits. Wind developers must treat communities with respect, address their concerns appropriately and recognise the importance of ensuring people benefit directly from developments in their areas.”

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic