Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has claimed the Government’s scheme to encourage the uptake of solar power has gone “gangbusters” in the past year, with demand far ahead of what was anticipated.
Mr Ryan said there had been a solar revolution in 2023. A huge amount of solar power had come onto the grid. In 2022 there was about 13 Gigawatt hours of solar in total. In 2023 it is around 400 Gigawatt hour. “It’s an incredible leap.” He said solar power was complementary to wind power and was working really well in Ireland.
The Green Party leader was speaking to the media to coincide with the end of the autumn Dáil term. Focusing on renewable and clean power, he said he has plans to set up a number of mobility hubs around the country at a cost of €40 million over the next few years. The hubs would collectively provide a fleet of 200 cars for electric vehicle (EV) sharing, electric bike sharing, as well as charging facilities for EVs.
He said that a pilot mobility hub has been in use very successfully in Fingal and the business case was being made to extend the scheme gradually across the country. He said that initially three cities would be provided with hubs. The identity of the cities has not been made public as yet.
He said the Government “would go big” on the car-sharing stations in the mobility hub. “I just think that’s going to be a game-changer because cars are parked 95 per cent of the time. It’s very expensive. If you can have easy access to cars and car-sharing schemes that are fully charged. I think it can be a game-changer, and that’s one of the most important projects we will roll out in 2024.”
Mr Ryan said that sales of EVs were up 45 per cent year-on-year and it was now likely there would be 110,000 EVs on the road by the end of the year. “Our target for the end of 2024 is 195,000. So the way things are going we are going to exceed that.”
He said the public charging infrastructure needed to increase. There were 1,700 public charging points in the State at the beginning of 2023 and there would be 2,250 by the end of the year. He said that an additional 200 would be placed in sports clubs around the country during 2024, with a further 150 being introduced in the midlands as part of the European just transition fund.
Mr Ryan also said there were plans to introduce dynamic pricing in relation to renewable energy. For example, there could be a reduction in price on the days that there was strong wind to encourage people to use as much energy as possible on those days.
In a separate interview Tánaiste Micheál Martin repeated his views that RTÉ should have been more transparent about its finances at an earlier stage of the controversy that enveloped the broadcaster over its financial arrangements with broadcaster Ryan Tubridy.
“I think RTÉ could have, in the initial presentations of the issue, been far more comprehensive and upfront. I thought it was a very disparate incoherent sort of presentation at the committee (hearings). That said, standing back, I thought there was an over degree of personalisation of some of the criticism (levelled at RTÉ during the committee hearings). I think we in the Oireachtas have to learn as well in terms of due process.
“The more fundamental point really is that quality is important in broadcasting and in the media. Balance is important. Sometimes we can lose sight of (how) the modern media can be a bulwark against populism and a bulwark against extreme views.”