In a presentation to the MacGill Summer School, John Mullins said our renewable energy target for 2020 is 16% of primary sources.
“We are currently at 8% after a decade and a half of significant investment. We have five years left,” he said. “We will not meet this target without a ground changing and radical white paper which will accelerate all forms of renewable technologies on the supply and remove any barriers to implementation of sophisticated ICT based demand management tools on the demand side.” Mr Mullins, who is now chief executive of Amarenco Solar, said Ireland’s dependency on imported energy is at 89%.
“In absolute terms, our dependence on imports has increased. This at a time when oil prices have moved from $60 a barrel to $145 at peak around July 2008 and now at $51 a barrel,” he said. “This is a commodity in which we have no control over its price as a small country and we continue to take a view that this energy resource will always be cheaper than alternatives.” The former Bord Gais chief said electricity generated from renewables hit 20.9% of consumption in 2013, one of the best performances across Europe.
“But our performance in heat and transport has been at best dire. Our targets are also potentially running away from us with the onset of significant economic growth and energy demand growth.” He said when it comes to renewable energy Ireland is a “two trick pony” - wind and bioenergy to a lesser extent.
Mr Mullins said some “renowned economic commentators” were suggesting climate change is a fad and Ireland will not be fined when we reach 2020.
“The reality is that climate change is a scientific fact, our targets are binding and our annual fines based on internal Government reports could be as high as €500m per annum.”
“The truth is that we have no silver bullet for dealing with Ireland’s energy crisis,” he said. “This can only be addressed through successful deployment of a multitude of technologies. We need to create a drive for zero emissions. We need to democratise energy and place it in the hands of the customer.
“On the supply side we will need to complement wind roll out with Solar PV and biomass” Mr Mullins told the summer school.