Green paper on future energy policy to be published within months

Department also preparing a national planning framework for renewable energy

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte says energy policy will be published shortly. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte says energy policy will be published shortly. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

IrelandPat RabbitteOireachtasEnvironment Committee

He said yesterday that his department was also preparing a new national planning framework for renewable energy that would “prescribe where wind farms can be built and where they can’t be built”.

The Minister said both policy documents were being “driven by the goal of decarbonisation” for the electricity sector, especially in view of the “shocking implications” of the UN’s latest scientific report on climate change.

He told the committee it was “inevitable that renewables will be a very important element of energy policy” for the future, but admitted it would be “challenging” for Ireland to meet EU targets for 2020.

A review of wind energy planning guidelines is expected to be finalised by the middle of the year while a “bio-energy proposal” would be published in the next few weeks. “Whatever the scarcity is, it’s not a scarcity of policy,” he said.

Referring to plans to export wind energy to Britain, Mr Rabbitte said a three-month deadline for completing negotiations had been set by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British prime minister David Cameron.

He said problems had arisen because the British side had yet to put in place a regulatory framework to accommodate Irish wind and that a “possible new architecture” would be required if there is to be a deal on the way forward.

The Minister said there would be a “substantial” return to the Irish exchequer from any wind export deal as well as jobs, “community gain”, greater grid interconnection, corporation tax receipts and commercial rates.

“We have the capacity to sell green energy to the neighbouring island . . . But we will only do that within the constraints of a national planning framework.”

The Minister said one of the aims of Eirgrid’s plans to upgrade and extend the transmission network was to accommodate wind.