MOST Irish families will be heating their homes with electricity within 20 years, on the back of wind and wave energy, according to the International Energy Agency.
Speaking at the Energy Ireland conference at Croke Park, Andreas Biermann said that while electricity will not get any cheaper, it will be most accessible to the householder due to the growth in renewable sources such as wind and wave.
Mr Biermann said “in homes across Europe the emphasis would be on maximum insulation to ensure minimum heat loss”.
“Use of electricity for heating might not make sense now, but as carbon capturing technologies are developed it will take over from oil. Electricity will be used with solar energy in much more efficiently managed homes” he said.
District pump systems, he predicts, will be used to communally heat apartment blocks and housing estates. Mr Biermann called for government supports to improve energy efficiency in homes and urged the development of interconnected grids so we can have a European energy market.
ESRI Research Professor John Fitzgerald warned that the future of Irish industry will be in the financial and web-based sector. He urged the need for a common carbon tax across Europe.
“A carbon tax could benefit competitiveness and lead to a reduction in general labour tax. It will encourage investment and research and would be best if it were EU-wide so we remain competitive. Targets are meaningless. Policy is what will change our energy usage and cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Government was also urged to give financial and political support to the development of an Irish bio-fuel industry as we have the potential to become world leaders, according to a leading expert in bio-fuels, Michael Cunningham.
Managing director of White Young Green Ireland, Mr Cunningham said that we “have targets but no action plan”. He said the development of the Irish bio-fuel industry would not completely solve our energy supply crisis but it could contribute to it. Bio-fuel is any bio-mass material, such as wood pellets and bio-diesel, that can provide bio-energy.
“In the short term, bio-fuels combined with energy efficiency offer the only real option for reducing our dependency for oil and cutting our greenhouse gas emissions” he said.
Mr Cunningham warned that the planning process for bio-fuel development needs to become more open if we are to build the industry. He also said a “vision for the future” must be put in place.
He warned that we should be able to go some way towards insuring security of supply from within this country. He added that the bio-fuels in industry could supplement the declining farm income and also increase employment in rural communities. The world bio-fuel market was largely untapped and by 2030, at the current rate of increase, transport will be consuming 80% more energy.
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