Plans for the Irish energy sector outlined in a Programme for Government drawn up by the parties in Ireland’s proposed coalition include measures for a ‘renewables revolution’ and the decarbonisation of the energy sector
The coalition would be formed by three parties: Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. The Plan for Government, as it is known, would come into effect once members of the three parties had voted in favour of the coalition deal.
Under the plan, it has been reported, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin would serve as Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) until December 2022. The plan was published on 15 June 2020 by The Irish Times.
Cornwall Insight head of energy markets Ireland Conall Bolger, who has analysed the plan, said some of the proposals had “real potential.”
They include a target for Ireland becoming net zero by 2050 and significant investment in onshore and offshore renewables, including a Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction for offshore wind in 2021, a Marine Planning & Development Bill in nine months, 5 GW of eastern and southern offshore wind by 2030, and potential for 30 GW of floating offshore wind off Ireland’s Atlantic coast.
The document also describes a ‘transformational programme of research and development’ to ensure Ireland is at the cutting edge of scientific and technological innovation in meeting climate change targets, including floating offshore wind and green hydrogen.
“We will take the necessary action to deliver at least 70% renewable electricity by 2030,” said the document. It highlights a first RESS auction by the end of 2020, with auctions held each year thereafter, including the first RESS auction for offshore wind in 2021; and giving cross-government priority to the drafting of the Marine Planning and Development Bill.
The coalition government also envisages a ‘whole-of-government’ plan setting out how to deliver on 70% renewable electricity by 2030 and how to develop the necessary skills base, supply chains, legislation and infrastructure to enable that.
It also includes a commitment to complete the Celtic Interconnector to connect Ireland’s electricity grid to France; and planning for future inter-connection with Ireland’s neighbours.
“We will also produce a longer term plan setting out how we will take advantage as a country of the massive potential of offshore energy on the Atlantic Coast,” said the document. “This plan will set out how Ireland can become a major contributor to a pan-European renewable energy generation and transmission system, taking advantage of a potential of at least 30 GW of offshore floating wind power in our deeper waters in the Atlantic.”