Days without coal

Sir, – Eirgrid has confirmed that the all-island grid operated without coal between April 11th and May 7th – a total of 25 days (Kevin O'Sullivan, Home News, May 10th). This is the longest period the grid has operated without coal since the all-island electricity market was introduced in 2007. EirGrid group chief executive Mark Foley said this was "a really positive development" as coal was the most carbon intense of all electricity sources.

Coal is actually not the most carbon intensive source of electricity. Peat is more carbon intensive than coal by about 10 per cent, yet we still continue to extract peat to generate electricity. Not only do we continue to use peat but we continue to subsidise it, to the tune of €65.52 million in the electricity year 2018 / 2019 according to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities. This subsidy is paid for directly by consumers and forms a significant part of the Public Service Obligation charge that every account holder sees as a line item on their electricity bill, regardless of supplier.

The most carbon intensive source of electricity is wood, at about 15 per cent more energy intensive than coal. In the Machiavellian way in which we can manipulate the facts to suit the situation, wood is regarded a sustainable source of energy, provided we replant the same amount or more than we cut down. What is wrong with planting trees without cutting down an equivalent amount?

If this is a climate emergency then we will have to do better.


I, for one, await the speedy return to the Dáil of Minister for Climate Action, Richard Bruton, with new proposals. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.