More than €125 billion in public and private investment will be needed on the island of Ireland this decade to progress the transition to net zero, according to a new report.
Ibec and the Confederation of British Industry Northern Ireland have jointly launched an all-island energy policy report calling on policymakers across Ireland and Britain to develop a more co-ordinated and ambitious effort to transition to net zero.
The report argues Ireland’s progress towards its climate goals is hindered by regulatory uncertainty, planning delays, skills shortages, supply chain constraints and emerging energy security risks.
It says natural gas will continue to play a “crucial role” in Ireland’s energy system, and will be “vital to the integration of renewable power generation”. However, it says the war in Ukraine and resulting energy crisis has “revealed the unreliability and affordability challenges” that come with this reliance.
“With natural gas supplies expected to decline over the next decade, Ireland will be increasingly reliant on imports through Britain from Norway, the United States and further afield,” it says. “The island of Ireland also has no emergency gas storage in the event of a major disruption to the gas interconnectors with Britain.
“This demands the development of indigenous renewable gas, long-term gas storage solutions, increased energy crisis co-operation, and an emergency storage solution.”
The report also argues that the net zero transition requires the speedy roll out of critical energy infrastructure including network modernisation and expansion, offshore and onshore wind farms, interconnectors and energy storage facilities. “However, developers face immense difficulties delivering such projects on time,” the report says. “Critical projects like the long overdue 400kV North South Electricity Interconnector can take over a decade to bring from pre-planning to completion.
“The reasons for these delays include cumbersome planning processes, regulatory uncertainty, a lack of resources in key agencies and lengthy judicial review challenges.
“A failure to address these issues will see vital investment, talent and supply chains move elsewhere. Ultimately these delays threaten the island’s ability to meet energy and emissions targets.”
Furthermore, the report says significant public and private investment is needed to progress the transition to net zero. On the island of Ireland alone it estimates that over €125 billion will be needed this decade.
Ibec executive director of lobbying and influence Fergal O’Brien said the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive, along with the recommencement of North/South Ministerial Council meetings, present “a real opportunity to begin a new phase of co-operation”.
“While both the UK and Ireland have set world-leading climate and renewable targets, targeting net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the importance of an all-island approach is a critical component,” he said.
“The energy demands, emissions drivers, and barriers to decarbonisation are broadly shared across the two islands, and policymakers face the same difficulties with infrastructure delivery, energy affordability, public buy-in, skills shortages, carbon leakage and technology readiness.
“An uncoordinated and disjointed approach could see policymakers working against each other, resulting in unnecessary duplication of effort and investment, increased costs, mixed signals for consumers and investors, and missed opportunities for emission reduction.”