Government publishes Green Paper on energy


The Government today published a Green Paper on Energy which sets ambitious targets for reducing the State's reliance on imported fossil fuels.

The policy document Towards A Sustainable Energy Future For Irelandcalls for 30 per cent of electricity consumed to come from renewable sources - mostly wind - by 2020.

It also targets a 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency by 2020 mainly through changing consumer practices and building greener homes.

The paper identifies security of supply, environmental sustainability, and economic competitiveness as the three key pillars that energy policy must be built upon.

Another key plank of policy will be to increase competition through enhanced physical interconnection, both north-south and east-west.

The Green Paper was launched on the day that a 34 per cent rise in gas prices comes into effect.

The paper supports the statutory ban on the generation of nuclear electricity in Ireland brought in under the Electricity Regulation Act, passed by the Oireachtas in 1999.

"The prohibition is being maintained for reasons of security, safety and environmental feasibility," it said.

Speaking at the launch, Tasoieach Bertie Ahern said: "There is almost no other policy area, which is so basic and fundamental to our success, in terms of sustained growth, prosperity, social development and full participation in the 21st century."

Mr Ahern said: "This Green Paper proposes challenging and coordinated actions and targets across Government to move us towards a Sustainable Energy Future, and make Ireland an acknowledged world leader particularly in the areas of renewables, biofuels and energy efficiency."

Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources Noel Dempsey said: "Over the past two years we have already doubled the electricity produced from renewable sources and we are on track to have 15 per cent of electricity consumed coming from renewable sources by 2020".

Mr Dempsey said: "I want to see a clean, clever and competitive energy sector in Ireland. In my vision for 2020 Ireland will be a fully sustainable, secure, efficient, affordable and competitive all island energy market, supporting environmental, economic and social policy objectives."

A National Energy Efficiency Campaign was launched earlier this week to encourage households to change to more sustainable energy practices.

The Government also said it plans to launch a National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency for other sectors such as housing and transport which will be integrated into the new National Development Plan.

The Government said the paper took account of views and analyses from a wide range of bodies such as the National Competitiveness Council, Forfas, the ESRI, IBEC, ICTU and the Oireachtas Committee.

A two-month consultation process will now commence, during submissions can be made to the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources on the paper.