Renewable energy has saved Ireland over €1 billion in fossil fuel imports in past five years

Wind energy a great national opportunity and facts not myths should guide our approach, says SEAI CEO

Media Release, Dublin, 18th February, 2014 - Dr Brian Motherway, CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), said today that wind energy is Ireland’s greatest indigenous energy resource, and we should ensure we exploit it to the benefit of the Irish people: “This is all about making Ireland more energy independent – harvesting our own resources instead of importing the expensive resources of others.”

In a strong defence of continuing wind energy development, Dr Motherway said that on a range of objective measurements wind energy is delivering for Ireland.  In the past five years renewable energy has saved over €1 billion in fossil fuel imports; has reduced CO2 emissions by 12 million tonnes and has not added to consumers’ bills.

As the issues of further wind and grid development are discussed across the country, it is important that this debate be based on factual evidence and not myths.” said Motherway.

 Dr Motherway said that some vocal opponents of specific developments have sought to question the national case for more wind energy development in Ireland.

 "Many people are concerned about renewable energy proposals in their communities. People are entitled to raise all the concerns they may have and a full and open debate is essential.  However, false information only serves to worry people further.”

 “Frankly, many arguments have been put forward questioning the case for more wind development in Ireland which are not fact based.  The evidence is very clear that wind energy is good for Ireland, bringing economic, environmental and social benefits. We must ensure we don’t throw away the opportunity to capture these benefits.”

Discussing these benefits, Motherway pointed out that Ireland is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels, spending €6.5 billion per year on such imports. “This creates risk, and bleeds large amounts of money from the domestic economy. Wind and other renewables will allow us to gain greater energy independence, and massively reduce our carbon emissions as well.”

Growing our use of renewable energy is also vital for our national competiveness, giving us greater control over our energy prices. “Less reliance on fossil fuels gives us greater certainty on our energy prices, rather than leaving us at the mercy of international commodity price rises. It also helps attract foreign investment, as more global companies seek access to clean energy as part of their location decisions.”

“Those who argue that wind is expensive and unnecessary are quite simply wrong.  Because Ireland has such a good wind energy resource, we can get cheap clean electricity from it. Making comparisons with other countries about wind effectiveness is not always valid.  Ireland has a uniquely strong resource.  We have one of the lowest support regimes and wind is not raising electricity prices.”

Dr Motherway said that good planning is essential and emphasised that capturing these benefits should reasonably reflect the interests of local communities.

“There are undoubtedly places where wind farms should not be built.  That is why we have a transparent and functioning planning process, which has proven itself capable, time and again, of making objective decisions.

 For the past decade, we have successfully developed wind farms around Ireland in tandem and with the support of communities.  Billions have been invested and thousands of jobs created. There should be no free-for-all.  We need a careful and considered approach which is transparent and that involves meaningful consultation and local benefits.  Wind developers must treat communities with respect, address their concerns appropriately and recognise the importance of ensuring people benefit directly from developments in their areas.”

Concluding, Dr Motherway said “If we are to have an open and balanced debate about energy policy in Ireland, it is time that those who oppose more wind development set out their alternatives.  Where will we get our energy from in the future? Do we want to remain perpetually dependent on other people’s resources? How will we meet our climate targets?”

 Dr Motherway was speaking at the publication by SEAI of Renewable Energy in Ireland which shows good progress towards our renewable targets with over 7% of Ireland’s energy demand coming from renewables in 2012 resulting in €250 million less expenditure on imported fossil fuels.

A copy of the report Renewable Energy in Ireland can be downloaded from here


Click here to download a copy of this release in PDF format

For further information:

Karen Ferris, Drury

01 260 5000 / 086 317 1248

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