The Future of Green Energy in The Emerald Isle

March 10, 2016

Jim Mc Eneaney

The Future of Green Energy in The Emerald Isle

Renewed doubt has been cast over Ireland’s ability to meet sustainable EU greenhouse gas targets for 2020 with emissions across the transport and agriculture sectors set to increase over coming years.


With emissions attributed to the transport and agriculture sectors set to increase over the coming years, our ability as a nation to meet the specified EU greenhouse gas targets for 2020 has been brought into question once again by the Environmental Protection Agency.


Their latest report outlines how full implementation of our current energy efficiency and renewable fuel energy policies will still see Ireland fall short of our targets in 2020, which could result in large fines for non-compliance to what is essentially a commitment to a Europe-wide renewable energy initiative.


These targets outlined our responsibility to reduce emissions from sectors such as transport, agriculture, residential and waste by 20% from 2005 levels as part of the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS), with the EPA now expecting our reduction to fall between the 6-11% range, well below 20%.


When we look at these sectors individually, there have been innovations on a larger scale that can help reduce emissions in this regard, with electric cars in transport, recycling programmes concerning waste emission reduction and renewable energy production in the residential sector, of which the widescale adoption of solar energy solutions such as our very own solar panels plays a significant role.


However, for the wider population, our agricultural production is something that the people of Ireland cannot realistically effect or change within the realm of their own homes. We can offset the increase of emissions in this industry by reducing them elsewhere and this may be a viable short term strategy for a new government.


Either way, it’s our overall, aggregated efforts that we feel the government can concentrate on in this manner. Our national GDP may be effected if we were to cut down on our herd size and the government is arguing that we can’t afford to cut production within one of our nation’s most valuable industries.


What are your thoughts about the balance discussed above? Do you think it’s a good idea to consider taking on board the points of EPA Director General, Laura Burke, when she referred to how “we must break our dependence on fossil energy infrastructures”?


These infrastructures run right to our doorsteps, where we depend on fossil fuels for central heating purposes, to heat our homes, heat our water, power our appliances and drive our cars; we’re concerned not only about the cost of our energy, but on the impact it’s having on the environment, and in turn, our future generations’ wellbeing.


If the Irish government is serious about finding a solution to break our dependence on fossil fuels, it is important that it helps strengthen the appetite for such change amongst the population by further supporting alternative heating solutions, renewable energy production and our overall green energy efforts.


Incentives in this regard such as the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme, Better Energy Homes are working really well at the moment, giving homeowners the chance to avail of grant for solar panels amongst other opportunities in the renewable energy sector.


Previous schemes such as the Greener Home Scheme have heralded extremely positive change in homes all around Ireland and only add weight to the argument that government supported schemes can help Ireland offset its overall emissions through residential support. Instead of a help-me-help-you scenario, the power of renewable energy in the residential sector truly becomes a help-us-help-us scenario, one which we can all benefit from, to the detriment of no stakeholders.


Green energy in Ireland is more than just an unattainable dream, it is fast becoming a reality and those who embrace it are reaping the rewards, both financially and ethically; it’s time we started pushing for an evolution towards a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly Ireland and we’re excited by the prospect of solar energy play a prominent role in driving this narrative for many bright years to come.

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