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Ramp up in wind energy needed to meet electricity demand from data centres and electric cars, says Varadkar

The amount of electricity generated from renewable sources must rise from 30% to 70% by 2030.
Dec 28th 2019, 7:30 AM 13,107 88

A WIND “REVOLUTION” is needed if Ireland is going to meet its energy needs in the future, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. 

Before Christmas, the government approved a Bill that would ramp up development of offshore and foreshore renewable energy and give offshore wind projects planning in special zoned marine areas. 

“We’ve fallen behind where we should be on offshore wind because of our planning system, for offshore and foreshore, just doesn’t work. So it’s a new planning system, a little bit like the land planning system working with An Bord Pleanála, that will allow us to have, what I believe, will be a revolution in terms of offshore wind energy,” said the Taoiseach.

“And we need to that – we’re going to get from 30% renewables now, to 70% by 2030 – we’re going to need to do that,” said Varadkar, who added:

“That’s a much steeper thing to do than people think – about 30% of our electricity is now generated from renewable sources, we want to get to 70% by 2030. That’s much harder than people might think because there’s rising energy demand, and rising demand for electricity.”

He said there will be a lot more pressure on the electricity grid due to there being “more data centres” and “more electric vehicles” in the future. 

“The more people we have who heat their homes with electricity rather than oil or gas or solid fuels, the more electricity we’ll need. So we’re going to need a huge level of investment in wind energy, and solar too, and we’re going to need to make sure that happens,” said Varadkar. 

The government previously announced it would be phasing out the exploration for oil off Irish coastal waters. Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton has also confirmed that a major review of the security and sustainability of Ireland’s energy supply has been approved by the government.

Ireland has missed targets in the past and our performance in taking action against climate change was ranked the worst in Europe in a report published last December.

The Climate Change Performance Index ranked Ireland 48th out of 56 countries, with a score of 40.84, far below the EU average of 60.65.

The Taoiseach said some of the government’s goals for 2020 is to implement the Climate Action Plan, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to improve our air quality, to create new green jobs and industries.

“That’s going to mean more investment in renewable energy, in public transport, in cycling and charging points, insulating homes and buildings, and greener agriculture and biodiversity.”

The heads of the Climate Action Bill, which brings into effect a lot of the governance mechanisms around the Climate Action Plan, will be published in the new year.

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This will ensure that carbon budgets are in place and enshrined in law.

The Climate Action Council and all the governance mechanisms to make sure that the government and future governments have to deliver on climate action will also be set out. 

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Christina Finn

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