Business leaders downbeat on 2030 renewable targets

The majority of senior-level business leaders and energy experts surveyed by law firm Mason Hayes & Curran say they do not believe Ireland will achieve its target of generating 70pc of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

The findings of the survey – gathered from nearly 200 delegates at the recent Economics of Energy event –were published just as the UN Climate Action Summit kicks off in New York City.

The leaders say a major push is needed to deliver offshore energy supply for Ireland.

“After decades of discussion and debate, we currently only have one offshore windfarm in Ireland on the Arklow Bank”

“The Government declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in May, signalling its intent to address climate change and related environmental sustainability issues on a more decisive basis. Ireland’s climate action plan envisages having 3,500 MW of offshore wind energy by 2030, however the right policy and legislative framework needs to exist to incentivise investment and to fast track developments in this area,” said Will Carmody, co-head of Energy at Mason Hayes & Curran.

“After decades of discussion and debate, we currently only have one offshore windfarm in Ireland on the Arklow Bank. We need to see urgent progression of the proposed maritime planning and development legislation, offshore grid connection policy and clarity on off-shore wind’s place in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auctions to stimulate this essential channel of energy supply for Ireland.”

The issue of supply

The survey found that only 10pc of respondents said Ireland is ‘very likely’ to achieve its targets, with 35pc saying it is only ‘somewhat likely’, while well over half (55pc) said they doubted the likelihood of Ireland meeting its renewable generation targets on time.

Asked what would be the most effective way for Ireland to ensure security of energy supply for the future, just under 60pc cited offshore wind development as the most desirable option, whereas an Ireland-European interconnector is seen to provide the best prospect of energy security by 35pc of those surveyed.

The remainder of those surveyed hovered between further oil and gas exploration off our own coasts – as an option to secure Ireland’s energy supply –  while just 2pc said they would favour nuclear power.

“The issue of security of supply could be exacerbated by Brexit, and any potential risks this might pose to the North-South interconnector project and the efficiency of the all-island integrated single electricity market (I-SEM),” warned Eoin Cassidy, energy partner at Mason Hayes & Curran.

“Eirgrid has carried out feasibility studies for a proposed €1bn Ireland-France power cable (the Celtic Interconnector) which would be able to carry 750MW of electricity, enough to power 450,000 households.

“It would provide Ireland’s only direct energy connection to an EU member state once the UK leaves the EU, and would clearly be a very welcome development if it proves economically viable to bring it forward for development. In the interim, the progress of the RESS auction process remains critical to ensuring momentum in the development of renewable generation in Ireland.

“The recent announcement to sector stakeholders that the RESS auction pre-qualification will open in December 2019 is a welcome development.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 24 September, 2019