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Friday 9 June 2023 Dublin: 14°C
Sam Boal/ Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan
# Gaining power
Eamon Ryan says plans are afoot for 'more solar in next three years than 20 years of renewables'
He made the statement before the Oireachtas Climate Committee today.

THE GOVERNMENT PLANS to create capacity for “more solar renewables in the next three years than the total amount of renewables we built in the last 20″, Minister for Climate Eamon has said.

The minister was speaking before the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action today to take questions from TDs and Senators about the Climate Action Plan 2023, which was published in December. 

Addressing scrutiny on how the government intends to meet stringent decarbonisation targets in the near future, the minister pointed to efforts to ramp up renewable energy, including solar.

He said that solar panels should be fitted on every school and “thousands, if not tens of thousands, of farms” by 2025.

“I see no reason why we should not be able to deliver that in the next three years as some of the examples of the projects that we need to do,” the minister said.

The Climate Action Plan 2023 outlines that 80% of Ireland’s electricity should come from renewable sources by 2030. Up to 5GW of energy should be produced through solar power by 2025, rising to 8GW by 2030.

The government has introduced a range of supports and grants aimed at facilitating wider uptake of solar panels at a local level to help reach those targets.

Despite the grants, some households and businesses interested in installing solar panels say the upfront cost is still prohibitive. Additionally, the government’s microgeneration support scheme, which involves individuals generating renewable power receiving a payment from their energy supplier for excess energy exported to the grid, has taken months longer than promised to be fully up and running.

Ireland is one of 194 parties to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement, a major international deal between countries to keep global temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius and ideally less than 1.5 to temper the rising threat to human life and ecosystems caused by climate change. 

Overall, the Climate Action Plan 2023 details climate measures for electricity, transport, agriculture, land-use, the marine environment and other sectors and the co-benefits of climate action such as improved air quality, public health, resilience against extreme weather events, and new jobs.

It is the first to be published since the approval of binding carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings that set clearer limits on the amount of emissions that the country and individual sectors can afford to emit in the coming years, divided into five-year cycles.

In addition to the plan itself, the government still needs to produce an Annex of Actions – a numbered list of every individual action arising from the plan, the measures to achieve it, and when it should be completed.

Minister Ryan told the committee that the Annex of Actions should be published next week subject to receiving Government approval.

With nearly two full months gone by since the plan was published, he said it has taken “slightly longer than [he] would have liked” to produce the annex.

Chargers for electric vehicles came under scrutiny at the committee meeting, with politicians raising questions about the rollout of public charging infrastructure.

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan asked whether a “message” could be sent to local authorities that they must start installing chargers “at a quicker pace”.

“I think there needs to be a direction to local authorities, because at the moment, they don’t want to know about it, they don’t want to put their resources into it, even though the grant is going to be more favorable,” the TD said, also asking the minister whether he could direct local authorities to take up walking and cycling projects.

The minister responded that he “can and will”, adding that “you can’t run active travel completely centrally because local knowledge [is needed] of where those routes are, where the demand is, where the safe routes to schools need to go and so on”.

“It does have to come from both management and councillors.”

Under a strategy that received Cabinet approval last month, the government plans to help fund charging points at public locations like sports clubs, retail centres and tourism hotspots and fast 50kW+ chargers are to be made available every 60km along motorways.

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