Climate change and energy options

 

Sir, – The expensive folly of Ireland’s energy policy in response to climate change is clearly outlined by a number of recent articles in this newspaper.

That Ireland’s performance on climate action in response to global warming has been ranked as the worst in the EU (News, December 10th) is unsurprising.

What is less well-known is that we are on track to meet our world-leading 40 per cent target of electricity from renewables, mainly wind energy, and intend to spend another €800 million on new wind turbines alone in the next 12 months (News, December 10th), thereby increasing the value of Ireland’s wind turbine fleet to a staggering €4.5 billion.

The apparent paradox of leading in use of wind turbines while trailing in reducing emissions is deepened when one considers the claim of Dr John Doherty (Letters, December 6th) that “wind farms may eventually emit more carbon than an equivalent coal-fired power station”.

The resolution of the paradox is quite simple, in that emissions reduction to the extent required cannot possibly be achieved by wind energy, even when supplemented by solar and hydro-energy. This physical reality is now abundantly clear to all objective observers and those whose view is unobstructed by ideology or commerce.

Those seeking an evidence-based solution to the problem of sourcing clean and affordable energy need look no further than our European neighbours for inspiration, where it is found that the cleanest, cheapest electricity is supplied by nations that have copious amounts of hydro power (Norway) or nuclear power (France) or both (Sweden).

To help reduce emissions effectively, we must overcome the EU-imposed fixation with the expensive sideshow that is renewable energy and focus instead on the true objective of genuine low-emissions energy. As our hydro-energy resource is already almost fully exploited, we must review our national predisposition to consider nuclear as being too large, expensive and unsafe. This view is quite at odds with the reality of modern nuclear that safely reduces emissions and costs while avoiding the need to erect wind turbines where valid objections exist.

We could also remove the statutory ban on nuclear fission, kick-starting such a review and indicating our serious intent to tackle climate change effectively.

This would not, however, bring us any closer to actually having a nuclear plant in Ireland, as that would still require widespread public and political support. – Yours, etc,

DENIS DUFF,

Greystones, Co Wicklow.