Irish fortunes


October 17, 2013

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Two thousand two hundred and seventy days doesn’t sound like all that long.

Nevertheless that’s the available timeframe during which EU member states must begin to pick up the pace of clean energy development, generation and use.

And, despite its recent financial and economic turmoil, Ireland is no exception.

For, in common with other EU member states, Ireland is legally obliged to ensure that by 2020, at least 16% of all energy consumed is generated from renewables.

It’s also the primary reason why the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) expects to see €4.7bn invested in onshore wind energy over the next 6 years.

Indeed, by the end of September alone, 119 new initiatives had signed contracts to accept grid connections.

That was a notable generator submission uptick. And something that was encouraged as part of the Gate 3 Offer project – a government led initiative to prompt generators to increase the volume of grid connection applications.

In any case, what this all means for Irish wind power is that the country is suddenly set for a significant surge in wind energy operating capacity.

2.75GW to be precise. A figure that almost doubles the current level of electricity generated by wind in Ireland and that looks set to provide a significant uplift in employment and export potential to boot.

And with Ireland already having generated 5.5% of gross final energy through renewable means in 2010, that focus on wind energy as an export market has become an increasingly attractive economic opportunity.

It’s also the reason why, all the way back in January, senior UK and Irish politicians clamoured to claim credit for the establishment of a memorandum of understanding for the large-scale exportation of electricity to the UK grid.

Under the terms of the deal, associated Irish wind developers and generators would effectively be able to benefit from UK clean energy incentives, while transporting power through high capacity subsea interconnectors, running from coast to coast.

Based on comments made by Irish energy minister, Pat Rabbitte, last week, the initial timeframe to sign and commit to the deal may have slipped. However, the minister maintained that a deal would be formalised and in place early in 2014. Something that Pat thinks will boost the Irish economy while enabling the UK to hit its ambitious 2020 targets.

Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope he’s right.

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