11.3 Policy Context
11.3 Policy context
As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, the Irish Government has committed to a decarbonisation pathway to 2030 consistent with reaching the EU Target of Zero emissions by 2050. The EU key targets are;
- At least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels)
- At least 32% share for renewable energy
- At least 32.5% improvement in energy efficiency
Ireland’s targets include at least 40% reduction in domestic Green House Gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 and an increase to 27 percent in renewable energy consumption.
The Government’s Climate Action Plan sets out an ambitious course of action over the coming years to address climate disruption. The Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to reduce emissions and sets out targets per sector. In relation to onshore wind energy, the Plan estimates that in 2017 the total contribution of onshore wind was 3.3 GW. To meet the required level of emissions reduction, by 2030 the Plan aims to increase electricity generated from renewable sources to 70%, indicatively comprised of:
- at least 3.5 GW of offshore renewable energy
- up to 0.4 GW of grid-scale solar energy (NDP: 1.5 GW)
- up to 8.2 GW total of increased onshore wind capacity
The National Planning Framework (NPF) identified the importance of climate change in National Strategic Outcome (NSO) 8, which relates to ensuring a ‘Transition to a Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Society’. National Policy Objective 55 seeks to ‘Promote renewable energy use and generation at appropriate locations within the built and natural environment to meet national objectives towards achieving a low carbon economy by 2050’.
Action no. 21 states as follows: Ensure that updated planning guidelines for onshore wind are published in 2019. These Guidelines are currently in draft.
The Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) published in 2020 the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) 2021-2030 and a revised Renewable Electricity Policy Development Framework, intended to guide the development of large scale renewable electric projects on land. These plans, together with the Climate Action Plan 2019 are committed to a net zero carbon energy system for Ireland. The Climate Action Plan identifies how Ireland will achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions and puts the country on a trajectory to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The key objectives of the Climate Action Plan are as follows:
- Increase renewables from 30% to 70% adding up to 8.2GW of renewable onshore wind energy capacity
- Deliver the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) which will provide support for renewable electricity projects in Ireland through a series of scheduled, competitive auctions.
- Put in place a coherent support scheme for micro-generation with a price for selling power to the grid for homes and businesses.
- Open up opportunity for community participation in renewable generation as well as community gain arrangement;
- Streamline the consent system, the connection arrangements and the funding support for the new technologies both onshore and off shore.
11B To designate a pilot Sustainable Energy Zone in accordance with the Guidelines for a Sustainable Energy Community (SEAI, 2011).