EA Ireland

EAI Attend Liberal Energy Forum in Ennis

On Friday February 9th EAI attended the Alliance for liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) Party “Powering the Future – Liberal Energy Forum”, in Ennis. This very positive event brought together senior stakeholders in industry and policy makers to discuss ways in which Ireland is addressing decarbonisation targets through energy.

The forum kicked off with opening remarks from Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, and Senator Timmy Dooley. Commissioner Simson emphasized the importance of not just setting ambitious targets, such as the new 90% emissions reductions targets by 2040, but also ensuring their effective implementation, a point to be evaluated in Ireland’s NECP submission.

The Commissioner offered insights from her home country, Estonia, highlighting the role of digitalization in energy systems. She illustrated this by mentioning her ability to control her home’s heat pump remotely through her smartphone, underlining the significance of digitalization in facilitating the transition to smarter energy solutions. Notably, she mentioned that consumers increasingly favour flexible pricing models over fixed ones, a trend that Ireland is currently exploring through consultations on Dynamic Electricity Price Tariffs.

As the conference was uniquely situated in the west, references to Ardnacrusha hydro power station were frequent. Sean Hegarty, Net Zero Transition Manager ESB, reflected that the construction of the plant was one of the largest civil engineering projects in the world at the time, and with a cost of £5.2 million represented 20% of the infant state’s GDP. The scale of our offshore wind ambition today pales in comparison.

Floating off-shore wind on the west coast was highlighted as not only facilitating Ireland’s decarbonisation targets, but Europe’s as well. This will require Moneypoint transitioning to a centre for green electricity and hydrogen production.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Charlie McOnalogue and Minister of State at the Department for Transport, Jack Chambers spoke about the Governments plans to decarbonise hard to abate sectors. Trapping nitrogen and boosting the biomethane industry, as well as continuing to roll out EVs are their respective priorities.

Representatives from Amazon and Microsoft, spoke of how their companies are promoting renewable projects in Ireland through CPPA’s. Reflecting on the use of the term ‘Cloud’, Ciarán Conlon of Microsoft, stated that this term has led to the unfortunate misconception that data is an infrastructure lite industry, which is not the case as data centres are required. Niamh Gallagher, Amazon, stated her company will have 100% renewable backed energy supply by 2025 through supporting 28GW of renewable generation worldwide through PPAs.

EAI members TJ Hunter, Orsted and Gillian Kinsella, Bord Gais Energy showed how their companies are utilising new technologies in hydrogen and offshore wind to help Ireland decarbonise energy supply. Offshore wind’s LCOE is the most attractive energy investment at the moment, and although hydrogen is in it’s early stages, the value chain of hydrogen can allow for regionally balanced economic growth in Ireland.

Swedish Minister for the Environment, Romina Pourmokhtari, explained that Sweden’s energy mix is 40% hydro, 40% nuclear and 20% wind – and some of their difficulties of having the appropriate low carbon dispatchable generation necessary to support even 20% of intermittent renewables.

Here are 5 policy asks that were picked up throughout the day:

  1. Get DMAPs done to allow the offshore wind developers to invest.
  2. Streamline the permitting and planning process to remove obstacles causing bottlenecks in the delivery of renewable energy projects.
  3. Less government intervention in the electricity market.
  4. Address the skills shortages, particularly through targeted education for young people.
  5. Simplify access to European investment opportunities.