ReThink Pylons: Launch of Reply to Green Paper

Yesterday ReThink Pylons launched it’s Reply to the Green Paper on Energy. This is their synopsis of what was said at the launch, which was attended by TDs from FG, FF and SF, amongst others.

“The conference highlighted the following:
.
Since 2007 when the current wind energy plan was accepted by the Government much has changed, such that Biomass and Solar VP are two cheaper alternatives to the current wind energy plan, both of which have been proven to be technologically and financially viable.
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Being a late mover means that we have the advantage of seeing what has been tried and tested in Europe, and what hasn’t worked – specifically, Drax has successfully implemented a large biomass production plant within cost targets; solar power has been rolled out in many homes across Europe with solar power installation costs now half of what they previously were; and no other country has successfully doubled their wind speeds as is the Irish Government plan.
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Current energy prices are expensive in Ireland relative to Europe.
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The wind energy plan would cost €3.8 billion in capital costs. Also stated multiple times was that this is a conservative estimate and that it would in fact be an “eye wateringly expensive” mission to accomplish, costing significantly more than €4 billion.
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Carbon reduction cheapest through biomass, also cheaper with solar energy than through the windfarm programme.
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Project of converting Moneypoint to biomass would create forestry and other jobs.
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ESB charging large subsidies for wind energy (purpose: to reduce carbon), but importing high concentration carbon fuel from the USA to fuel their power stations. The carbon levels are currently at their 2009 levels, thus he deemed the subsidies to be a waste of tax payer’s money.
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In the Q&A:
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It was pointed out that to convert Moneypoint to Biomass all of Clare and Limerick would need to be planted to supply sufficient biomass inputs. Responding to this the BW Energy analyst advised that collaboration among the relevant groups could enable much of the necessary production to occur domestically, but also that there are readily available long term fixed price contracts which could be secured internationally for the inputs.
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Wind farms are getting planning permission rapidly across the country, are dividing communities with the wealth they are quickly able to accumulate, and the pace of Government decisions is far too slow in comparision to the pace with which the wind farms are developing. Speaker pointed out that wind farms have the additional advantage of upward only inflation proof tariffs making wind energy a much more attractive business in Ireland compared with the rest of Europe.
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The TDs agreed that the conference results were in line with their views. They referred to the following points:
One energy production method alone should not be the approach for the country, there is more than 1 option available. The speaker noted that multiple approaches were being used simultaneously in most European countries.
An option to work with people and households should be considered. The speaker encouraged this.
They hope to work with the new minister.
Seeking a moratorium on planning permission for wind farms.
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The key take away suggested by the BW Energy analyst to the TDs was:
At a very minimum put a halt to all energy implementations (eg the wind farm plan) until such time as the options have been debated and decided upon with certainty. He pointed out that Ireland has a lot of excess gas capacity enabling it to take the time to pause for proper review, without expense and without a significant increase in carbon levels (as gas carbon levels are half that of coal).”

Well done to ReThink Pylons. Let us hope that those in power take a pause in their headlong rush to build more wind farms and seriously consider alternative, and cheaper, forms of energy.

You can read the full document produced by BW Energy here:
http://www.rethinkpylons.org/library/140716Response.pdf

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from practice in 2002 to take up a full-time lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). He is an accredited and practising mediator and is busy writing a book, with Dr Sinead Conneely, on Mediation in Ireland. His current interest is Ireland’s energy policy and its impact on the people and the environment. He is also researching the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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