“We must diversify Europe’s energy sources” - Rabbitte
Energy Minister, Pat Rabbitte, T.D. is today meeting with fellow European Ministers to discuss strengthening energy security in the Union. The meeting organised by the Greek EU presidency provides a timely opportunity for Minister to take stock of the developing political situation in the Ukraine as well as wider energy security issues.
Speaking in Athens in advance of the meeting Minister Rabbitte said “I welcome the fact that next month the EU Commission will propose a comprehensive plan for the diversification of EU’s energy sources. We cannot afford to take the security of energy supply in Europe for granted. A problem for our friends on the Eastern Borders of the Union has the potential to cause difficulties even in Ireland. For example, any threat of disruption to gas supplies to, or through, the Ukraine is a threat to energy supply for us all. In Ireland, we import 96% of the gas we use for heating and electricity generation. While the gas we use today does not come from Russia, but rather from the UK and Norway, any prolonged disruption in supplies from Russia would likely push up prices of all gas available in Europe.
“Earlier this week I published a Green Paper on Energy which highlights the three central priorities – competitive prices, sustainability and security of supply. The Ukrainian crisis is a reminder that security of supply is not guaranteed. We need to avoid being too dependent on one type of energy or one source of imported energy.”
Minister Rabbitte added that the mix of solutions to this problem includes:
· increased focus on energy efficiency measures,
· development of indigenous renewable energy sources and
· more robust interconnection and infrastructure to ensure fuels such as gas and oil as well as electricity can be brought onto Irish and other European shores.”
Note to Editors
The following is copy of Minister Rabbitte’s draft speaking points on the issue of Security of Supply for the Ministerial meeting:
· Security and reliability of energy supply are fundamental priorities for all Member States. Regardless of the source of any potential crisis in supply, we are all mindful that a crisis for one Member State is a common crisis for all of us, but most especially, for those Member States closest to the potential supply disruption.
· We must leave no stone unturned as we seek to address issues and identify ways of becoming “as energy independent as possible, as soon as possible”.
· I welcome the work being undertaken at EU level to safeguard electricity and gas supplies to Member States. Thank you Commissioner for the intensive work that you led with Member States and neighbours over recent weeks on this issue. I would urge you to maintain your efforts until we see this crisis through, however long that might take.
· Ireland is fully supportive of existing plans in place regarding the EU’s security of supply and will input to the development of any new proposals relating to the safeguarding of energy security.
· Ireland would welcome the development of any new routes and sources of energy, including the Southern Gas Corridor and any potential benefits from new gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean. We will be supportive of any proposals that may take place to secure these diversified sources of energy for the EU.
· Ireland recognises the criticality of a properly functioning internal energy market for the delivery of security of energy supply for all EU citizens and particularly those in isolated countries. Ease of trading energy between us all across borders is a vital part of that. I am pleased that progress is being made on the programme to develop and implement the electricity and gas network codes necessary for that trading to be simplified and encouraged. Ireland continues to play its part in negotiating these codes, while recognising the importance of national specificities and differences in energy circumstances at national level.
· The Projects of Common Interest adopted under the Energy Infrastructure Package will enhance gas and electrical connectivity within Europe. Clearly, they will enhance European energy security. They will also address the serious deficits that currently hamper the ability of a large part of the EU to diversify supply sources and improve network resilience. I would urge the Commission to assist Member States to progress their PCIs in these important early days of such projects. Better trading rules will not be enough to make increased trading take place if we do not have the physical interconnections required to underpin that trade.