EUROPEAN POWER STATION
Sir, - A letter to your paper on March 3rd questioned the validity of the Europeat Power Station. This power station will be fired with peat and use state of the art technology for energy conversion efficiency.
Arguments about the importance of energy conservation are indisputable, and indeed all people who are aware of the finite nature of all fossil fuels (as well as the costs) share Dr McGrath's views about the necessity to promote this. Energy conservation alone is not a substitute for circumstances in which more energy is needed to meet growing levels of industrial and economic activity.
Also indisputable is the rising requirement for primary energy, and it is worth noting that of today's global population of 5.4 billion people, approximately two billion people do not have access to commercial energy. They rely on primitive methods of heating and cooking, based on deforestation.
The growth for primary energy will arise mainly in China, India, South America, South east Asia and Africa over the next 25 years. These countries will need and use fossil fuels to raise living standards by 2020 to levels that remain below those enjoyed in the Western world today. Ireland, by then, will depend for over 95 per cent of its primary energy requirements on supplies from other countries.
The main sources of proven primary energy, oil and gas, are in regions of social and political instability and where primary energy has in the past been used as a weapon of economic war. Many large coal exporting countries have low living standards and very low per capita income.
The developed countries of the Western world should not rely on a continuity of cheap energy from traditional sources, where these suppliers have few other resources to raise their economic circumstances. It is entirely appropriate, in these circumstances, that Ireland would use its own natural primary energy resources, and use them efficiently. This is the position adopted by most EU countries which have primary energy resources.
The coat of indigenous energy in these countries is just one element for consideration. It is important that Ireland should have diversity of choice in the energy it uses, particularly with such high levels of import depedency.
The benefits of the Europeat Station are that it will help to lower dependence on external sources that it will use conversion technology which is the most efficient available and enable peat to match long term costs of alternative electricity generation technologies, while keeping within required emission standards; that the after use of cutover peatlands have a mix of uses which will be environmentally attractive - there are a number of examples today which demonstrate this; that no peatlands owned by Bord na Mona, and which are of scientific importance, are designated for use in supplying peat to Europeat; and that the Government is not providing any funds for the Europeat Project. The EU - is offering £21m from the Regional Development Fund.
The word "balance" is used extensively to mediate between conflicting views. However I feel Dr McGrath has a singular agenda which excludes any consideration for the benefits to the rural and national economies from the commercial use of peatland. - Yours, etc.,
Peat Energy Division,
Bord na Mona,
Tullamore, Co. Offaly.