A massive expansion of offshore wind farms will help Ireland hit its climate targets and can be done with “minimal environmental impact”, the CEO of EirGrid has said.
Last year the Government’s Climate Action Plan promised to slash emissions by 50% by 2030 - a target Mark Foley described as “quite extraordinary”.
In 2020 20% of all electricity in Ireland was generated by renewable sources and the industry aims to grow that 80% by the next decade.
At the moment, much of Irish green energy comes from onshore wind - something Mr Foley said Ireland was “probably one of the best countries in the world” for and now the energy sector needs to expand its offshore capacity.
“A lot of the heavy lifting will be done by offshore wind in the Irish Sea,” he explained to The Pat Kenny Show.
“That’ll be the backbone of the journey from 2020 to 2030.”
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Environmentalists have previously raised concerns about the impact of offshore wind farms on the spawning grounds of fish and birds who may be slaughtered if they fly into a turbine’s huge blades.
However, Mr Foley argued that the expansion need not negatively impact the environment:
“If you look at what’s been achieved around the world - particularly in the United Kingdom, particularly in Denmark where they’ve led the way as world leaders in offshore wind - we have the great benefit of being able to leverage what they’ve already done.
“They’ve proven the proposition, they’ve proven the price points and they’ve proven they can do it with minimal environmental impact.”
As the country grapples with the soaring cost of living, the Government says generating more green energy in Ireland is one way to reduce people’s utility bills.
Environment Minister Eamon Ryan is considering fast tracking wind farm planning applications with the aim of having seven fully operational by 2027.
“This is the real opportunity for our country to switch away from fossil fuels and put it up to Putin, saying ‘We’re not going to use your gas in the future, we have our own [energy] supply’,” Minister Ryan told journalists in March.
“The more we build, the cheaper this becomes,” he added.
Main image: Engineers climbing wind turbine at offshore wind farm. Picture by: Alamy.com