Renewable energy saved Ireland over €1bn in fossil fuel imports in past five years

Wind energy is Ireland’s greatest indigenous energy resource, and we should ensure we exploit it to the benefit of the Irish people, according to Dr Brian Motherway, CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

“This is all about making Ireland more energy independent – harvesting our own resources instead of importing the expensive resources of others,” he said.

In a defence of continuing wind energy development, Dr Motherway explained that on a range of objective measurements wind energy is delivering for Ireland, and that in the past five years renewable energy has saved over €1bin in fossil fuel imports, has reduced CO2 emissions by 12 million tonnes and has not added to consumers’ bills.

“As the issues of further wind and grid development are discussed across the country, it is important that this debate be based on factual evidence and not myths.”

Dr Motherway said that some vocal opponents of specific developments have sought to question the national case for more wind energy development in Ireland.

“Many people are concerned about renewable energy proposals in their communities. People are entitled to raise all the concerns they may have and a full and open debate is essential. However, false information only serves to worry people further.

“Frankly, many arguments have been put forward questioning the case for more wind development in Ireland which are not fact based. The evidence is very clear that wind energy is good for Ireland, bringing economic, environmental and social benefits. We must ensure we don’t throw away the opportunity to capture these benefits.”

Discussing these benefits, Dr Motherway pointed out that Ireland is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels, spending €6.5bn per year on such imports.

“This creates risk, and bleeds large amounts of money from the domestic economy. Wind and other renewables will allow us to gain greater energy independence, and massively reduce our carbon emissions as well.”

Growing our use of renewable energy is also vital for our national competiveness, giving us greater control over our energy prices, he noted.

“Less reliance on fossil fuels gives us greater certainty on our energy prices, rather than leaving us at the mercy of international commodity price rises. It also helps attract foreign investment, as more global companies seek access to clean energy as part of their location decisions.”

Dr Motherway was speaking at the publication by SEAI of Renewable Energy in Ireland, which shows good progress towards our renewable targets with over 7pc of Ireland’s energy demand coming from renewables in 2012 resulting in €250m less expenditure on imported fossil fuels.