Ireland’s national and household energy bills could be slashed significantly if the Government fully adopts renewable energy tools such as wind farms, a leading group has claimed.
Speaking at the launch of its latest annual report into the issue, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland officials said the move towards the new technology can play a key role in the country’s economic recovery.
SEAI chief executive Dr Brian Motherway said in the past five years the growing use of renewable energy has saved Ireland at least €1bn in as the country becomes less reliant on foreign oil and gas sources.
Should this trend continue Ireland could save billions of euro more by the end of the decade by taking advantage of wind farm opportunities in the west of the country.
And noting the impact of this move from being “at the end of a pipeline” to being the source of energy could bring, the senior SEAI official said the switch in policy is also likely to help cut household energy bills.
“Over the past five years our use of renewable energy means more than €1bn has stayed in the Irish economy that otherwise would not.
“This reminds us that Ireland has a very good renewable energy resource — we’ve one of the best wind energies in the world. It’s about exploiting our own resources.
“Wind is very good for Ireland financially. Right now the problem is we have no control over energy costs because we have no control over global oil and gas and we are a price taker, we’re at the end of a pipeline and have vulnerabilities.
“Renewable energy is about regaining control and regaining a degree of energy independence and regaining control of the cost of that. In the long term we all know fossil fuels are only going to get more expensive, the more we use our own indigenous energies the better it is for everyone,” he said.
Just over 200 wind farms are currently used in Ireland as part of European pollution reduction initiatives seeking to increase the use of renewable energy internationally by 2020.
While some groups have raised concerns over communities potentially seeing the equipment imposed in their local areas, Mr Motherway said it is essential affected residents have their voices heard before any work begins.
He was speaking at the launch of the SEAI’s 2012 annual report into renewable energy use in Ireland.
According to the document, which can be read here, the amount of Irish energy coming from the source has risen from 2.3% to 7.1% since 1990.
Renewable electricity now stands at 4.1% of overall energy demand; renewable transport at 0.8%; and renewable heat at 2.1%.
In absolute terms, renewable energy usage has surged by 500% since 1990 and renewable electricity by 400% during the same period, with wind farms among the fastest growing sources.
By 2020, European targets want 40% of Irish electricity, 12% of heat and 10% of transport to comefrom renewables in order to help cut down on CO2 emissions worldwide.
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