Securing Ireland’s energy supply a priority in new policy

THE Government is to introduce a new energy policy within the next year to reassess the country’s needs and to ensure security of supply, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte said yesterday.

There will also be a full review of the 2007 Energy White Paper over the coming months to assess the efficiency of Ireland’s electricity and gas markets.

“Given the dramatic change to the economic backdrop, both in Ireland and internationally, now is a good time to reassess our energy policy directions,” the minister said at the opening of the 2011 Energy Ireland annual conference at Croke Park.

“It is my intention that a new energy policy framework will be published early in 2012. The new 2012-2030 framework will take account of developments over the past few years since publication of the 2007 White Paper,” Mr Rabbitte told delegates.

He said the new policy will also be informed by an in-depth review of Ireland’s energy policy to be carried out by the International Energy Agency in late September.

The minister added that, despite the economic situation, security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability will continue to be the pillars of energy policy.

“We are heavily dependent on a single source of gas supply and our electrical interconnection is still limited. We are also heavily reliant on gas for the generation of electricity — a reliance that is set to remain for some time as gas is the fuel of choice while we build our renewable capacity. The delivery of key energy infrastructure is critical. The East-West electricity interconnector between Ireland and the UK will improve security of supply, as well as increasing competition and assisting in achieving our ambitious renewable targets. The project will be completed by the end of next year.”

The minister said a Bill to provide a regulatory framework for the commercial development of gas storage facilities would be published over the coming months.

Speaking earlier, Mr Rabbitte emphasised the importance of getting the Corrib gas field reserves ashore, particularly as a result ofGermany’s decision to shut all its nuclear power stations by 2022, following the Fukushima crisis in Japan.

He said the Corrib field had the capacity to service over 60% of our natural gas requirement but that protests had gone beyond the realm of safety.

“It is no longer a case of Shell to sea, it is Shell out of Ireland and that is not in Ireland’s national interest,” he said on RTÉ radio.

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