GREEN INDUSTRY NEWS

Radical changes needed to Ireland's tree-planting policies to improve biodiversity protection

A new study by Noteworthy, the investigative journalism platform of the Journal.ie. explores the continued granted licences for conifer plantations on rich biodiversity areas and valuable peat soil across Ireland.

Ireland was once covered in forests consisting of birch, oak and elm. Years of deforestation led to a mass transformation, resulting in Ireland becoming one of the least forested countries in Europe. Today, approximately 11% of the landmass in Ireland is covered in trees, compared to an EU average of over 30%, but Ireland does have some of the highest rates of forestry plantation in the EU and the largest forested area containing introduced tree species, largely Sitka spruce. 

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Budget 2021: Where do climate and biodiversity stand in the new budget plan?

Discussions concerning budget and climate have dominated news stories this year. Reaching a total of €24.5 billion in supportive measures, Budget 2021 amounts to nearly eight times the size of the previous Budget plan.

Given the significant implications of the pandemic, a major portion of this investment will be allocated into healthcare and social protection, consisting of €20.2 billion and €22 billion respectively. The question many environmental industry leaders are now asking is where does the climate and biodiversity challenges fit into the budget plans?

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Ireland signs new global agreement to prevent biodiversity loss

Ireland is one of several nations who have shown their commitment to biodiversity loss by signing up to a global initiative.

A total of 64 nations and the EU have signed the declaration, just days before the official opening of the UN Summit on Biodiversity. The initiative represents a collective ambition for biodiversity, climate and people, and recognises the challenge that lies ahead. 

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State of the World’s Plants and Fungi Report reveals solutions to our global challenges

Today, our biosphere is facing a significant threat. Rates of deforestation have climbed higher than ever before as we continue to clear land to feed our growing population. Global emissions are rising and transforming our climate system, and a growing number of new pathogens damage our crops and health. Biodiversity is being depleted on a local, regional and global scale.

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Has the rise of intensive farming accelerated the water crisis in Ireland?

A rise in milk production has created an economic boost, but this has had a significant impact on the condition of rivers and estuaries in Ireland. 

The river Bride which flows through Cork, Kerry and Waterford has a particular significance. The name Brigid refers to the flame-haired pagan goddess of water and is regarded as a very diverse place, renowned for its clean water and rich biodiversity. In recent years, however, the extent of pollution surrounding the area has all but destroyed the rich aquatic diversity. Residents point out the conditions of the river and the sheer level of pollution evident in the Brigid today.

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Public support is vital if renewable energy goals are to be delivered in Ireland

The chief executive of Eirgrid believes Ireland can create a world-class power system that is capable of operating on nearly 100% renewable energy but believes the nation first, has to convince people of the benefits.

At the annual Irish Wind Energy Association conference, Mark Foley highlighted that the key challenge of the decade for the industry was to ensure its collective vision gained wider support from all people.

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A string of community renewable energy projects in Ireland get the green light

Under the new renewable energy support scheme (RESS) several communities across Ireland will develop power generation schemes. The announcement made last week means that solar power projects at scale will be implemented across Ireland for the first time. Over 80 new renewable energy projects are now due to proceed after the Government approved the recent auction results enabling project bids to provide power to the grid at the most competitive prices available.

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Irish minister launches new waste action plan for a circular economy

Ireland has confirmed it will introduce new targets to tackle waste issues and move towards a circular economy under a new strategy announced by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The plan involves reducing food waste by 50% by 2030, introducing a deposit and return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans, a strict ban on particular single use plastics from July 2021 and a levy on disposable cups.

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Ireland is currently on track to reach its 2020 clean power target

The Irish Wind Energy Association has stated that a solid second quarter for the wind sector means the country should reach its 40% renewable energy target. According to recent findings, the wind industry generated nearly 29% of the nation’s electricity during this period.

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Ireland launches new native woodland scheme for public land

A new scheme dedicated to the planting of native woodland species on public land has been launched by the Department of Agriculture. The project intends to focus on one of the biodiversity commitments within the Government strategies and will be targeted at public bodies on a local and national level.

Iarnród Éireann is one of the first public groups to show a clear interest in the scheme and the CEO Jim Meade confirmed they will be exploring the feasibility of a particular site in Roscommon as a potential location for the scheme.

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Rising challenges facing the commercial forestry industry in Ireland

The challenges facing the forestry industry have raised the emphasis on the need for more environmental and ecology professionals in Ireland.

Environmental mismanagement in the commercial forestry industry in Ireland has led to a rising challenge in the forestry sector and could result in a significant number of trees being destroyed.

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Dublin’s Trinity College wildflower plans represent wider national biodiversity strategy

The iconic university in the centre of Dublin has started planting wildflower meadows, replacing its traditional lawns around the main campus. The plans represent a wider response from Ireland towards the biodiversity challenge and its commitment to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.

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Green investment vital for economic recovery in Ireland

The National Economic and Social Council have stated that environmental sustainability measures and more investment into carbon reduction strategies and biodiversity protection can accelerate the economic recovery of Ireland from the pandemic.

The Council has provided a detailed number of actions that need to be taken to deliver a sustainable recovery. The author Dr. Jeanne Moore explains that taking these steps provides an opportunity to redesign the economy and society and most importantly improve our relationship between us and the natural environment.

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Natural Capital Funding to support our environment and biodiversity

George Eustice, the environmental minister has confirmed a new Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment aimed at protecting the national environment as part of a larger package of Environmental Bill measures. The new plan valued at £5 million may be supported by additional funding plans via the UK’s Environment Bill which is focused on leaving the environment in a better condition than when we found it.

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Department changes not seen as positive for biodiversity plans

National Parks and Wildlife Services have not been allocated with enough political support, according to ecological experts. 

Many people had viewed the new Government as a positive move towards improving the support towards national heritage and biodiversity. Yet a recent move has suggested that the National Parks and Wildlife Service may not be included in their initial strategy. 

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Growing engagement with natural heritage since pandemic restrictions

The head of the Heritage Council believes people are far more engaged and connected to natural heritage since the pandemic restrictions were implemented. In an interview promoting the National Heritage Week in South Dublin, Virginia Teehan, the CEO of Heritage Council has noticed a stronger engagement in heritage across a range of age groups in the last few months.

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New Irish coalition is focused on delivering a ‘renewable energy revolution’

The three political groups that are nearing representing the next government are set to hold annual RESS auction rounds and adopt a target of 5GW. 

The parties have promised a revolution in renewable energy marketing, incorporating annual capacity auctions and an increased offshore wind target of 5GW.

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Coalition agreement will put Ireland in stronger position claims climate director

A leading representative in the climate transition in Ireland has stated that the coalition deal represents the best option to efficiently tackle carbon emissions.  Oisín Coghlan, the director of Friends of the Earth believes there is no alternative strategy capable of delivering a quicker and fairer approach towards climate action.

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Major retailer to use energy from food surplus to power its stores in Ireland

Tesco Ireland has confirmed plans to utilise renewable gas generated from excess food to power six of its major stores across the nation. The new initiative which Tesco claims to be a first for Irish retailers will contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions generated from retailers by 1,200 tonnes each year.

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The RIA urges Ireland to create a science advice network for the government

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) have called for the delivery of an independent network of scientific members to support and advise the government on the range of scientific challenges facing Ireland.

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New survey indicates that climate change policies in Ireland need to focus on science, not politics

A recent poll assessing public support for climate action suggests rising support for increased actions towards tackling carbon emissions. Despite the implications of the current pandemic, nearly two thirds of adults in Ireland believe it is critical that the incoming Government places climate change as a top priority.

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Wind replaces natural gas as Ireland's top source of electricity

According to a report by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, wind power has exceeded natural gas as Ireland’s main source of electricity generation for a full quarter for the first time ever.

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Dublin introduces new ecological ‘wilding’ strategy

The city of Dublin has introduced a series of ecological measures with the delivery of a new ‘wilding’ policy to enhance and improve the landscapes and local environment in parks and grasslands. The step changes to reduce mowing and chemical use in parks will enable wildflowers to flourish and support local ecological and habitat development in the city.

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The sustainable strategy of Ireland's investment fund

According to 2019 reports, ISIF has secured nearly 350 million euros to a number of renewable energy businesses and forestry projects over a five year period, with plans to invest an additional 5oo million euros in the next decade. This includes a major investment into four energy storage projects, including an investment into London-based Gore Street Capital which has current assets in both Wexford and Kildare.

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Ecology Focus: Exploring the forestry strategy in Ireland

In 1900, Ireland consisted of just 1% forest cover. This has increased to nearly 11%, consisting of nearly 800,000 hectares of forestland. Ireland is now committing to planting an additional 8,000 hectares every year to expand this figure to 18%. This approach to carbon management is focused on a number of reports highlighting that tree planting remains one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of approaching the climate challenge.

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UK green economy boosts jobs and economy but industry experts urge for more government focus

The latest findings on the green economy reportedly exceeded £46 billion, but industry experts have warned that growth needs to be accelerated if the UK is to deliver on its net-zero targets.

Environmental and clean energy campaigners are urging the government to focus more on accelerating the development of green energy projects and services in response to the climate targets of the UK.

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Expanding business support for low carbon development in Ireland

A recent report highlights how compared to International companies, domestic businesses are losing touch with climate action. A report into carbon emissions was created by non-profit organisation CDP for Irish-headquartered businesses. Top performing businesses listed in the study, included AIB, Kingspan, Kerry Group, CRH and Smurfit Kappa. 

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UN proposes 2030 strategy to protect global biodiversity

The draft plan includes a ten-year strategy to put a stop to the decline and extinction of species, enabling our ecosystems to recover by 2050.

Governments are expected to implement a new list of biodiversity targets, replacing the previous goals set back in 2010 in Aichi, Japan, of which most have reportedly not been achieved.

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The rise of sustainable investment plans in Ireland

Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock explained that climate change is now a decisive factor in business’s long term development and points to sustainable investment plans as a clear option to deliver better results for customers. BlackRock plans to make sustainable investment accessible to all and remove the barriers for those interested in participating in such programs.

Sustainable finance incorporates green bonds, socially responsible investment plans (SRI), environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, climate finance and performance bonds. Sustainable finance has become a focus in “Ireland for Finance”, a core strategy for the development of Ireland’s financial services industry to 2025.

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Tech businesses driving significant increase in renewable energy sales

Some of the world’s largest tech businesses are supporting a record rise in the amount of renewable energy sold to corporate businesses last year. Leading technology organisations like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are some of the biggest buyers of renewable energy.

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Creating a clean energy vision for Ireland

The collaborative project ‘Imagining 2050: engaging, envisioning and co-producing pathways to low carbon resilient Ireland’ is focused on defining national issues and exploring how local communities and create a sustainable and socially inclusive future. Researchers are highlighting the combination of social and scientific knowledge, emphasising the connection between the local community experience with scientific knowledge.

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Green Energy Recruitment drive needed to meet UK net-zero targets

According to National Grid, the UK must generate 120,000 green energy jobs by 2030 to support the transition towards a net-zero carbon economy if the government intends to meet its climate targets.

The new report highlights that Britain needs over 100,000 people in the next decade to support the development of new projects and reduce emissions to near zero. This figure is anticipated to rise even further to 400,000 by 2050 when the Government intends to have a clean energy system in place.

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What role will oil and gas businesses play in our low carbon future?

Big oil holds a significant slice of our global energy market and despite a worldwide spotlight on climate change, oil and gas will likely remain part of our energy mix for some years to come. Its dominant position in the energy market may be subsiding slightly, oil and gas businesses undeniably have a significant influence on the rate of movement and progress towards a low carbon energy system.

 

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How Artificial Intelligence can enhance renewable energy development

In the next few years, artificial intelligence is anticipated to have a significant impact on enhancing the efficiency of the clean energy industry by automating a number of operational procedures within the solar and wind markets.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), combined with a number of innovative technologies like Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning has already clearly demonstrated their potential to enhance the energy and utility market.

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New Study suggests a significant rise in offshore wind capacity

A new study by Wood Mackenzie has predicted that the 2020s will be a new era for the wind industry and will see the offshore wind market’s share of the annual global wind industry reach 25% by 2028. The report suggests that the onshore wind industry will continue to mature and compete further with solar as suppliers seek for further collaboration.

How Machine Learning can support further development in solar

New and innovative technology is being introduced into the industry at an accelerated rate. For clean energy, the new technology represents a number of new and exciting opportunities.  Creating the most efficient and cost-effective solar systems requires utilising the best technology available. Industry professionals are now exploring a number of new systems that could be used to radically transform the solar market.

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RESS plans provide an added boost for new solar development

A focus on increasing community participation and support for new solar projects are some of the top priorities for the first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) recently published. The plans of the first RESS auction have been anticipated by many energy businesses looking to progress on a number of projects, including large-scale offshore wind development to smaller solar developments.

The RESS scheme represents a part of Ireland’s strategy to ensure that 70% of the nation’s energy requirements are derived from renewable energy by 2030. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment state that the initial guidelines and conditions of the first auction include focus support for solar site development. 

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