4.0 Climate Change
It is well understood that urgent action is now required if Ireland is to meet the twin challenges of:
1. The growing demand for renewable generation4: Both large and small consumers are seeking greater innovative solutions to secure their renewable energy needs. Indeed, it has become particularly clear that the availability of a sustainable supply chain and particularly green energy is now a top priority for many influential companies in the commercial and industrial sector. Such as the companies which are part of RE1005. In deciding how to provide for the economic prosperity of the County, attract inward investment and provide for the employment needs of its growing population, Kilkenny Co. Co. needs consider how best to ensure that it can meet with the growing demand for renewable energy.
2. Legally-binding commitments: There are challenging timeframes within which Ireland must meet its legally-binding commitments under the existing EU and domestic legislative frameworks. In its most recent assessment, the EPA has projected that Ireland will fall significantly short of its 2020 targets under the EU Effort Sharing Decision No 405/2009/EC.6 We know that the effort required to meet our 2020 targets is substantial, particularly in terms of the heat and transport sectors. In its most recent report, the SEAI has confirmed that Ireland could fall short of the 2020 16% renewable energy target in all three scenarios modelled.7 The challenges associated with our 2020 targets are further augmented by the legally-binding commitments made under the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. Indeed, the latest Clean Energy for All Europeans legislative package confirms and tightens our current commitments and therefore the underlying investment and effort that is required to achieve them.8 We need to adopt a step change in our approach to decarbonisation over the coming five years and beyond if Ireland is to avoid falling behind, impairing our attractiveness as an economy and diminishing our prosperity.
Coillte plays a critical role in contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing Ireland’s energy security and contributing to a post-carbon and climate resilient economy. Our website (www.coillte.ie) contains further details regarding all of our projects. We believe that the decarbonisation of the electricity system is the single best catalyst to delivering a decarbonised social and economic environment as it fundamentally enables the decarbonisation of transport and heat through electrification, both of which have proven to be extremely challenging in the period to 2020.
As set out in Section 1.1 above, the key focus of our submission is our concern that the potential for renewable energy and specifically future onshore wind farm development in Co. Kilkenny is currently restricted by a set of criteria that initially was put in place some years ago when considering technology that has been outdated. This is supported by the fact that there are no wind farms operating in the current areas designated as ‘open for consideration’ for wind farm development in the current plan.
4 For further detail please see EirGrid’s Tomorrows Energy Scenarios 2017 http://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/EirGrid-Tomorrows-Energy-Scenarios-Report-2017.pdf
8 For example, see Proposal for a Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union (Article 27 (4) (c) at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:ac5d97a8-0319-11e7-8a35-01aa75ed71a1.0024.02/DOC_1&format=PDF