Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has been urged to authorise a study on the possibility of harnessing nuclear power to help Ireland meet its emissions targets over the coming decades.
The 18for0 nuclear power lobby group, comprised of professionals in energy and related fields, said it had contacted Mr Ryan to enquire as to whether the Government plans "to conduct or commission a study to consider the potential of nuclear energy to benefit Irish society after 2030".
The group said its own study indicated that Ireland is capable of developing a nuclear power programme that would "provide cheaper energy than alternative proposals, reduce carbon emissions faster, and enable a just transition for hundreds of energy workers".
Just transition is the term used to describe making sure employment opportunities and societal benefits are present for those who may live and work in communities tied to legacy energy industries, such as coal mining or peat extraction.
In December, Mr Ryan said he had “not ruled out” the possibility of nuclear power being utilised during the transition to more efficient energy, but said there was no appetite for it at the moment.
Neither the Republic nor the North has ever produced nuclear energy.
When asked at an Institute of International and European Affairs event if modular nuclear reactors were on the agenda for the Government, the Green Party leader said: "I’ve always said I wouldn’t rule IT out if someone could show that there is a new form of nuclear power that fits in within this model and I see some things on design boards or drawing boards, but nothing in applications, and no rule scale of investment.”
Coincidently, 18for0 had released its preliminary study on Ireland's nuclear potential at the same time as Mr Ryan's remarks.
In correspondence to the minister since those remarks, the group insisted its study deserved further discussion.
"The purpose of our study was not to provide answers to every conceivable question that might arise, but to establish whether there exists a prima facie case that merits further study into why, whether and how nuclear energy could be usefully deployed into Ireland’s 70% renewable electricity system after 2030.
"Our findings show potentially very promising answers to the questions of siting, cost and the other popular questions that arise when the topic is raised, and are a strong basis for further study," 18for0 said.
The group said recent Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Cork-based marine research institute MaREI reports on the importance of developing secondary infrastructure to support renewable energy should provide good enough reason to consider nuclear energy.
"There are no existing permitted technologies that can perform that role as effectively in Ireland as small nuclear power plants," it claimed.