Ireland’s renewable targets may be unachievable, experts warn

4 Dec 2023

Image: © mark_gusev/

As 118 countries sign more renewable energy pledges at COP28, a report claims Ireland’s energy grid can’t handle the solar and wind projects required to hit its energy targets.

Nearly all industry experts in Ireland’s renewable energy sector believe the country will fail to meet key targets in its Climate Action Plan, according to a new report.

One of the ambitious goals in this plan is to have 80pc of the country’s electricity come from wind and solar energy sources by 2030. But a new KPMG report – conducted on behalf of Wind Energy Ireland – claims that 95pc of consulted experts don’t believe this target will be achieved.

This report suggests there are key issues within Ireland’s planning system that are stalling attempts to grow the country’s renewable sector. The report claims there was a surge in onshore wind energy projects entering the planning system this year, but planning authorities lack the “resources, expertise and capacity to do the job required of them”.

Meanwhile, there are concerns that Ireland’s grid is not strong enough to handle the number of solar and wind energy projects that would be required to hit the country’s 2030 energy goals. Noel Cunniffe, the CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, said the report should be a “wake-up call” to those who want to cut carbon emissions and “end our dependency on imported fossil fuels”.

“I believe we can, and must, be a leader in Europe’s energy revolution,” Cunniffe said. “We have the natural resources, we have the project pipeline and we have the ambition.

“This report highlights the obstacles to achieving these ambitions. Our planning system is overwhelmed, our grid has reached capacity and our policy lacks that joined-up thinking needed to fulfil our potential. These challenges must be addressed, and fast.”

Last year, an index put Ireland at the joint lowest spot out of 13 European countries, in terms of its readiness to transition to renewable energy.

Bigger targets on the horizon

Meanwhile, the EU and 118 countries have signed a new pledge at the COP28 conference to triple the installed capacity of renewable energy by 2030.

This Global Pledge on Renewables and Energy Efficiency also aims to double the rate of global energy efficiency improvements from roughly 2pc annually to 4pc by the end of the decade. It is hoped that these measures will reduce the level of carbon in EU energy systems and phase out “unabated” fossil fuels.

“We have built a broad and strong coalition of countries committed to the clean energy transition,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. “We are united by our common belief that to respect the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal in the Paris Agreement, we need to phase out fossil fuels.

“We do that by fast-tracking the clean energy transition, by tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency. In the next two years, we will invest €2.3bn from the EU budget to support the energy transition in our neighbourhood and around the globe.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic