The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton T.D. has announced that he has received Government approval to initiate a major review into the security and sustainability of Ireland’s energy supply as we move to 70% renewables.
Minister Bruton said,
As we phase out coal and peat and move towards generating 70% of our electricity from renewable sources, we need to make sure we are prepared for when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. We will look at the best mix which will maintain energy security, while ensuring we are meeting our climate commitments.
The Climate Action Plan, published earlier this year, sets out over 180 actions across every sector which will ensure we meet our 2030 climate commitments. Commitments to phase out peat and coal and a move towards 70% renewable electricity are central to the Plan. The government have also, following advice from the Climate Change Advisory Council, made the decision to cease exploration for oil off Irish coastal waters.
In that context, by 2030, Ireland's electricity supply will be dependent primarily on variable renewable (wind and solar) energy. The remainder is likely to be generated from natural gas - the lowest emitting fossil fuel, interconnectors and battery storage.
Minister Bruton is initiating a major review into Ireland’s energy sustainability and security which will:
- Consider the optimal actions that need to be taken, in reaching 70% renewable electricity, to ensure Ireland’s electricity system is backed up in a secure, safe and sustainable way.
- Assess the role of gas during the transition, as the lowest CO2 emitting fossil fuel, and consider how and from where it is sourced.
- Review the role that other technologies can play in the transition, including battery storage, pumped storage, the role of interconnection (both gas and electricity) and the possibilities for hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
- Consider what the roadmap for renewable electricity looks like in the period from 2030 to achieving carbon neutrality in 2050
Minister Bruton has written to the Chairperson of EirGrid, ESB, Bord na Móna, Ervia and CRU to seek their input into the review.
Minister Bruton said,
Decarbonising our energy supply is crucial. It will make a really significant impact on our emissions, especially as we electrify our car fleet and public transport systems. This review will ensure we are prepared to make the radical change that is needed.
Notes to the Editor
Gas is currently considered to be a transition fuel. This is particularly the case in Ireland, where we do not have nuclear power, hydro power at scale or geo-thermal power, which other countries can use to provide back-up when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. Therefore, it appears that gas, as the lowest emitting fossil fuel, will provide the best electricity back-up in 2030 when we reach 70% renewable electricity. However, Ireland's sole gas producing field (Corrib) will be depleted around 2030, after which 100% of our gas supplies will likely come through the gas pipeline link with Scotland.