December 13, 2021

Cork Chamber urges for greater ambition and action towards the climate crisis

The recent climate summit raised the focus on the climate challenge and the need for global action towards the issues we face. Cork Chamber, the leading business for economic and commercial activity in the Cork Region, believes further ambition is necessary for Ireland in regards to the government’s response to the climate crisis.

Government plans in Ireland, including the Climate Action Plan and National Development Plan, are intended to increase the level of renewable-sourced electricity from 70 to 80% to support transport and industry. 

At present, however, power generation is struggling to keep pace with demand, and an energy supply risk is rising due to increased demand and the removal of older fossil fuel facilities. Meanwhile, global energy major, Equinor recently exited the Irish offshore wind industry due to a lack of support for Ireland’s regulatory and planning measures for offshore wind.

The renewable energy industry has a similar potential to the pharma industry established in the southwest in the 1970s. Pharma generated a powerful boost to the economy in Ireland and delivered a massive return while completely transforming the domestic economy. The pharm industry received significant support from the government that enabled Ireland to become a global leader.

Industry leaders believe that with the necessary support, the energy industry in Ireland can have a similar level of economic impact on the nation. The exit of Equinor is of significance, and many believe the government must react quickly to drive added industry support.

Industry leaders believe that progressive changes in renewables are critical, particularly in the case of offshore renewables and green hydrogen. Regulatory conditions should be capable of supporting and driving renewable energy projects forward, enabling Ireland to meet its climate targets.

Grid capacity mustn’t limit the potential of renewable energy in Ireland. The Irish Sea is home to hundreds of wind turbines, but at present, only a few of them are Irish.

Changes to regulations

The Maritime Area Planning Bill can remove regulatory and administrative challenges. Implementing a new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) can strengthen Ireland’s maritime areas and allow a smoother process for licences, leases and permissive planning.

Industry leaders believe renewable energy targets must increase and expand the RESS with provisions for floating offshore, hydrogen and anaerobic digestion. 

An innovative and progressive plan for renewable energy presents a significant opportunity for Ireland to drive ethical energy solutions, a stable economy and address the climate challenge. Industry experts believe it is now time to correct the regulatory and legislative framework, improve policies, investment and ensure there are sufficient supportive measures in place for businesses across Ireland. Ireland should strive to be a leader and compete in a global economy, stepping up its position in the renewable energy industry.

The incident with Equinor is a lesson that cannot be repeated and highlight the need to focus on developing homegrown energy projects on a national scale.