A recently published SEAI report highlighted a worrying trend in Ireland’s progress towards meeting the binding 2020 target of having 16% of our energy needs produced from renewable sources.
The report showed that in the period up to 2015, renewable energy sources contributed to 8.6% of Ireland’s gross final consumption of energy, compared to the previous year when it accounted for 7.8 %. Having been largely on track to achieve its targets, the report states that between 200MW and 250MW of wind energy must be installed each year across the country if we are to achieve this 2020 target.
To put this in context, the average wind capacity installed over the last 5 years was a mere 177MW. The door is now closed for new applicants to avail of the REFIT 2 scheme with the closing date having passed on 31 December 2015.
Furthermore, under the current scheme windfarms must be energised or have turbines delivered to site by 31 December 2017 and be exporting at least 75% of installed capacity by the 30 September 2018. Such timelines are extremely challenging for projects to meet, particularly in the context of a fundamental change to the single electricity market, long lead times on the delivery of major components, not to mention the rigours of a project financing process.
The recently launched IWEA “Power to Power Ourselves” campaign highlighted the fact that Ireland does not take advantage of wind energy as much as we should. The potential is huge and could greatly help Ireland on its journey to energy independence, cutting out the cost of importing energy from abroad. I would suggest that now is the appropriate time for government to extend the above deadline dates by 24 months respectively.