Fianna Fáil candidate for the Midlands North West Barry Cowen has reiterated calls for the fast-tracking of renewable projects to ensure Ireland’s energy future.

Last month, Cowen warned that an energy crisis is looming if urgent changes aren’t made to the planning process, specifically in relation to offshore wind, with Ireland under growing pressure to meet its emissions targets.

This week, a Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) report has warned that Ireland is falling behind on its targets and that urgent action is needed to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy generation in order to meet the Government’s 2030 targets.

“It is clear the current system is not fit for purpose, and we must act now if Ireland is to fulfil its vast renewable energy potential,” Cowen said.

“The Climate Change Advisory Council’s annual report highlights many of the issues that are holding Ireland back from incredible opportunities in relation to renewables. They rightly address the need for planning reforms, with Ireland well off the pace.

Finding balance

“We are achieving good things with a significant reduction in our emissions, but we must find a balance in order to move at greater speed and scale to overcome barriers and meet our electricity targets.

“Ireland has the capacity to become the powerhouse of Europe - generating up to €300bn for our economy by 2050 - but, as things stand, we won’t avoid serious issues with our electricity system, let alone meet our own modest energy targets for 2030.

“We have a vast, untapped resource off the west coast that we’re not taking advantage of, but the infrastructure to ensure we realise our potential in offshore wind is simply not there. We can’t get An Bord Pleanála to grant permission to approve these projects so construction can get underway, creating a logjam and further issues down the road.

“If I am elected to Europe, I want to see the introduction of a pan-European energy grid with Ireland at the centre as a global leader, with an urgent energy response unit dedicated to providing the planning and construction expertise required to deliver such projects.

“But first we need to take immediate action to overcome these hurdles at home and make this a reality."