Offshore wind turbines at Barrow Offshore Wind off Walney Island in the Irish Sea Photo: Andy Dingley

Climate Action Committee set to call for 70% renewables by 2030

March 25th, 2019

An ambitious target to increase the share of renewables in electricity generation to 70 per cent by 2030 is set to be included in a highly anticipated report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action.

The latest draft of the committee’s report, seen by The Green News and set to be released later this week, points toward the adoption of a new regulatory framework to push for the development of offshore wind generation.

Just last week, a €31 million project was approved for an ambitious four-year floating offshore wind project at a Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) test site near Belmullet in Co Mayo. Deployment is currently planned for 2022 subject to planning consent.

Eirgrid is set to be greenlighted to integrate up to 65 per cent renewable capacity onto the existing grid as part of ambitions to boost renewables penetration to at least 75 per cent of peak demand by the end of 2020.

However, the committee report draft – which is still subject to changes – states that current grid connectivity policy “is no longer fit for purpose” due to barriers for citizen-led micro-generation.

The State’s new climate policy should look to break down barricades between community and Government bodies by involving citizens in the transition from fossil-fuel to clean energy, the draft states.

The draft also points to the need for new incentives to allow farmers, homeowners, small enterprises and community groups to generate their own energy – most likely from rooftop solar – and sell the surplus back to the grid.

The draft also points to a need for community scheme grants in impoverished areas as well as incentives for low-income families to facilitate access to low-interest and long-term loans for the likes of retrofitting and solar panel installation.

Moneypoint Power Station - nocturne in blue and gold
Moneypoint Power Station Photo: Tiger

Moneypoint closure

The draft calls for an end to fossil fuel energy production, in particular coal and peat, “as soon as technically feasible”. It is currently planned to stop burning coal at Moneypoint by 2025 and peat at Bord na Mona and ESB stations by 2030.

The draft report also notes the temporary closure of Moneypoint last year and advises the ESB and Eirgrid to devise a roadmap for balancing the grid with zero dependency on the station.

Last December, The Green News revealed that all three coal-fired units at Moneypoint were out of action for several months due to a forced outage at the Co Clare facility.

Moneypoint is one of Ireland’s largest generating stations with a total generation capacity of 915MW, making up over one-fifth of electricity generation in 2016.

Running out of time

Speaking at the Fine Gael National Conference in Co Wexford this weekend, the Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton TD said that we are running out of time for tackling climate change.

“Preparations on the all of government Climate Plan are in their final stages. It will include actions across all sectors, with timelines and clear lines of responsibility,” Mr Bruton said.

The plan will include the target outlined in the committee’s draft of hitting 70 per cent renewables on the electricity grid by 2030.

“This target will require investment in onshore and offshore wind and other renewable technologies,” he said.

“To deliver this target will require significant leadership from the government but we are determined to deliver on our climate commitments.”

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