Dr Anthony White, BW Energy discusses Irelands Energy Crisis at The 35th Annual MacGill Summer School
Wednesday 22 July 2015
Ireland is still almost totally dependent on fossil fuels for its energy needs and most of it is imported at a cost of over €6 billion per annum. We import 100% of our oil supplies, 95% of our gas and all our coal. We are also importing electricity from the UK through an interconnector, produced by nuclear power, in spite of the fact that we appear to have set our minds against nuclear on our own soil. Increasing amounts of our oil and gas supplies will be produced by the fracking process which has in recent times made the US self-sufficient in oil and gas and which, it would seem, we have also rejected as a possible source of energy if not produced elsewhere. We, as a small island on the west of Europe without any indigenous source of energy are especially vulnerable and we have had an example of energy being used as a weapon when Russia turned off its oil supply to the Ukraine. With our almost total dependency on fossil fuels we are among the most exposed countries in the EU and furthermore will have difficulty in meeting our obligations under increasingly stringent international climate change legislation. Our EU commitments require us to generate 40% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. We have made some progress but not nearly enough. Wind as a source of electricity was at 20% in 2013 but, as we know, there are several problems such as storage and sometimes sustained opposition to the required pylon networks. Ocean and wave of which we have in abundance is also a potential source of clean energy but little progress appears to have been made on that front. Ireland is vulnerable and we need a long-term, carefully considered strategy with implementation as a must. A government White Paper is due this autumn.
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