Today, the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) is hosting its annual conference. Ahead of the day, Ireland’s Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD, spoke to Carmel Doyle about his keynote at the Galway event, dubbed ‘Building a Sustainable Energy Future’.
In the following video Rabbitte covers issues such as creating green-collar jobs on the back of wind-farm developments and translating the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey in January into an intergovernmental agreement by 2014.
Trading of excess wind energy between the two islands
The over-arching aim, according to the Minister, is that Ireland can start capitalising on excess wind energy by 2020, so that the country can meet its 20-20 targets under the EU, and avoid having to pay massive fines.
The goal would be that that Ireland can generate 40pc of electricity from renewables by 2020. Rabbitte said this would be achieved mainly via wind.
Allaying ‘misguided’ fears
He also says that he wants to dispel certain ‘myths’ that are circulating in parts of the country at the minute, and said that such speculation is causing unnecessary concern in regions – think the Midlands, particularly amongst community groups.
Rabbitte’s ultimate goal at the IWEA event running today was to talk about pushing Ireland into a new energy era, by helping the country reduce its some 90pc reliance on imported fossil fuels – fuels that are finite.
He also said that he wants to let every person and community. especially the Midlands, have a say before the industry moves form interconnection plans with the UK.
He said that it is not just industry and landowners who should capitalise on wind-farms, but also the social economy – ie people and communities.
Ultimately, it will be about helping Ireland achieve lower energy prices one day, which could spell good news for homeowners, small businesses, start-ups and the larger industry ecosystem on the island of Ireland.
And in using State-owned land in the Midlands (some 200,000 acres), Rabbitte says that he is listening to communities, and trying to allay fears that some people might have about wind turbines and energy.
He wants to make sure everyone benefits from wind farms, not just industry and landowners.
It’s all about "opening up a new sector," Rabbitte said.
There are fears being stoked up in arts of the midlands that are "unlikely to be affected at all" by the planning process, he added.
Watch the video interview here: