Wind energy essential for Ireland’s future, but communities must benefit

By John Arnold

By John Arnold

We in GEAI have published our position paper on Wind Energy with some controversial conclusions. Our main position is that “The development of wind energy is an essential part of the development of low-carbon energy generation in Ireland but such development must have genuine benefits for and buy-in from the Irish people.”

Our EVS volunteer and researcher Irina Tiugan explains, “We fully support wind energy development, on-shore and off-shore, but not the approach that has been taken so far to such developments; communities must be at the core of the planning process. If communities are involved in wind energy projects, they have more chance of success. In Germany, France and Scotland, we have seen that the involvement of the community in the development process has led to general acceptance and a faster implementation of the project. In other words, if people genuinely benefit from local wind energy projects, opposition to them is far less.”

The potential of wind energy to contribute to creation of a low-carbon Ireland is huge. Ireland is the second windiest country in Europe after Scotland, and it has a great potential for wind power. At present, wind produces less than 20% of Irish electricity consumption while the country spends billions every year importing fossil fuels.

GEAI fully supports and encourages community ownership of wind energy projects and small neighbourhood wind energy projects.  “Many studies show that if people have buy-in they will accept wind energy development”, said Irina.

We encourage Government to move effectively towards a collaborative planning approach in the development of wind energy as a national resource owned by and benefiting the Irish people. “With this Position Paper we want to contribute to a scientific-based debate around wind energy in Ireland, as well as to help in building a  sustainable, low-carbon and fair country,” Irina concluded.

Fracking is not the way to reduce Ireland’s energy imports

Drilling

Ireland imports 89% of the energy it consumes during a year according to the last data release by Eurostat and 98% of this is supplied by fossil fuels. It is the 4th highest energy importer in the EU, after Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus. Ireland’s high dependency on imported fossil fuels makes her vulnerable, because she has no control over her energy supply. Problems in other parts of the world can have a huge impact on Ireland.

However, drilling for local sources of gas or oil is the wrong answer. Using renewable energy sources, e.g. wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power, is the only way to reduce Ireland’s energy imports.

“We depend on fossil fuels to generate electricity, heat our homes and drive our cars. We need to change that and the right way is by generating energy from renewable sources”, said GEAI director Aedín McLoughlin. “Recent studies confirm that 80% of global fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground to stop climate change and keep conditions on Earth suitable for humans. Fracking is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.”

“Business as usual is not an option, we need to reduce our energy use and move towards a low carbon economy”, the GEAI director remarked.

”We have the solution at hand, we can power ourselves without endangering the planet. Ireland has great potential for wind, solar energy and biomass power. We are a small country but we can become a great example for the rest of the world. Our politicians must rise to the challenge and transform the current dull Climate Action Bill by including targets that will contribute towards a low-carbon world.”

Good Energies visits Mount Lucas windfarm

Yesterday the Good Energies team went to Mount Lucas windfarm, Co. Offaly where we had a tour of the 28 3MW turbines and also attended an informative and colourful presentation by Pat Fitzgerald from Bord Na Móna about their renewable energy projects, which include solar and biomass as well as wind.

Our team were amazed at how quiet the turbines were. No doubt they were a new feature on the landscape, definitely not everybody might think they are beautiful, but the GEAI team thought they were appropriate in the context of the use of cutaway bog, 850 metres from the nearest habitation.

IMG_0048

More pictures on Flickr.

How do we get off our Fossil Fuel addiction?

Sustainable Energy – without the hot air

The following is an extract of the synopsis of the excellent book by Professor David McKay

We have an addiction to fossil fuels, and it’s not sustainable. The developed world gets 80% of its energy from fossil fuels; Britain, 90%. And this is unsustainable for three reasons.

  • First, easily-accessible fossil fuels will at some point run out, so we’ll eventually have to get our energy from someplace else.
  • Second, burning fossil fuels is having a measurable and very-probably dangerous effect on the climate. Avoiding dangerous climate change motivates an immediate change from our current use of fossil fuels.
  • Third, even if we don’t care about climate change, a drastic reduction in Britain’s fossil fuel consumption would seem a wise move if we care about security of supply: continued rapid use of the North Sea oil and gas reserves will otherwise soon force fossil-addicted Britain to depend on imports.
How can we get off our fossil fuel addiction?

There’s no shortage of advice on how to “make a difference,” but the public is confused, uncertain whether these schemes are fixes or fig leaves. People are rightly suspicious when companies tell us that buying their “green” product means we’ve “done our bit.” They are equally uneasy about national energy strategy. Are “decentralization” and “combined heat and power,” green enough, for example? The government would have us think so. But would these technologies really discharge Britain’s duties regarding climate change? Are windfarms “merely a gesture to prove our leaders’ environmental credentials”? Is nuclear power essential?

We need a plan that adds up. The good news is that such plans can be made. The bad news is that implementing them will not be easy…

Download the full synopsis: Click here
Download the full book: Click here

David McKay is Professor of Physics, Cambridge University.

2030 Vision – The Future of Energy in Ireland

 

2030 Vision logo small

Conference organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland
19th September 2013, Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon

To all Public Representatives, Local Authorities, Environmental NGOs and Policy-Makers
As you know, energy is a very important topic for Ireland just now.  This conference offers a unique opportunity for you to consider the issues and discuss policy.
You will, we expect, find it most informative and valuable, full details below.

2030 Vision – Renewable Energy Sources vs Fossil Fuels?

This conference will examine some of the key issues around the choices Ireland has to make at this time.  
Key topics of discussion will include:
•         2030 – A different World, a different Vision
•         Sustainable Energies and Market Needs-Bridging the Gap
•         Wind Energy and Policy
•         The Economics of Unconventional Gas Development
Speakers include:

Deborah Rogers
Lecturer on shale gas economics throughout the U.S.  Member U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI), an advisory committee within the U.S. Department of Interior.  Founder of Energy Policy Forum, Fort Worth, Texas.

Eamon Ryan
Leader of Green Party, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources 2007-2011
David Taylor
Chairman Energy Institute in Ireland, former Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
Matt Kennedy
Low Carbon Technologies Manager, SEAI
Maurice McCarthy
CEO, Organic Power Ltd. Cork
Aedín McLoughlin
Director, Good Energies Alliance Ireland
For profiles of speakers [click here]
 2030 Vision Conference
is directed at Public Representatives, Local Authority Members and Officials, and Decision-makers nationally to provide an overview of the choices facing Ireland as we move into a future that is very different and with huge implications for sustainable development.
 Conference Programme [click here]

Registration information

Thursday 19th September 2013, Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon
This conference is open to Public Representatives, Local Authority Members and Officials, local and national decision-makers and representatives of organisations interested in our Energy future.
Conference Delegate Fee: €120
Early Bird Fee (Before 1st September): €100

Special NGO delegate fee: €60

Each participant will be provided with a pack containing all information and lunch and refreshments are included.
To reserve a place please fill in the Registration Form (link below) and email to goodenergiesalliance@gmail.com
(payment is via Paypal, EFT, cheque or invoice).
 Registration Form, Payment Methods and Pro-forma Invoice [click here]
The Conference is part-funded by Leitrim County Council* and Department of Environment and Local Government under the Local Agenda 21 programme.

*The Department of Local Government & the Environment and Leitrim County Council wish to clarify that whereas they have agreed to partially fund the event, such funding assistance does not indicate endorsement or otherwise of the topics covered in the Conference.

COPYRIGHT

® All rights reserved to GEAI 2018