Kilrush – An Ideal Location for the establishment of a reseach centre for renewable energy

April 30th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen speaking in the Dail this week, during Fine Gael’s Private Members Motion which urged the Government to devise an emergency strategy for the allocation of energy resources in the event of a serious disruption of oil or gas supplies, suggested that Kilrush in West Clare would make an ideal location for the establishment of a research facility to develop renewable energy sources.

Private Members – Wednesday, 21st April 2010

 

 

 

Deputy Pat Breen: Recent events are a stark reminder to all of us that nature is in control and that we have no power over acts of God. As an island nation on the periphery of Europe, we are dependent on fossil fuels, which are costly to supply and import. They currently make up 96% of our energy demands. If we are to restore the country’s competitiveness and end our over-dependence on imports, we must develop indigenous energy sources. Natural gas currently accounts for 35% of primary energy demand in Ireland. As we know, Russia supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas, some 80% of which is transited through Europe. In 2008, we all remember that Russia cut off gas supplies through the Ukraine, thus depriving many eastern bloc countries of heating gas during that winter’s Arctic conditions. It caused terrible problems.

Ireland’s annual requirement for heating oil is nearly 2 billion litres, which is enough to fill Croke Park three times over. The International Energy Agency predicts that by 2020 some 82% of Europe’s gas will be imported from Russia and the Caspian Sea basin. Ireland is at the end of that pipeline and if anything happens to disrupt the supply we would be left very exposed. We do have the Corrib gas field, which at maximum output would meet 50% of our national demand, but there are only 16 years left in that.

Deputy Coveney’s motion concerns our dependence on fossil fuels. We have the potential to develop renewable energy sources, such as wave and wind energy, particularly in my own mid-west region. I welcome the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the University of Limerick, Shannon Development, NUIG and Silicon Valley’s Irish technology leadership group, which led to the development of the Shannon region as a major hub for renewable energy. We have a rich abundance of natural resources in the Shannon area and estuary, including wind, wave, tidal and solar resources. Algae harvesting can also be done off the coast. CO2 could be filtered through the algae and seaweed as it is very good for the seaweed. The seaweed could then be used as a biofuel. It has been suggested that Kilrush in west Clare would make an ideal location for the establishment of a research facility.

Deputy Coveney visited Moneypoint last year and saw for himself the environmental retrofit project being completed there by the ESB, which will lead to a significant reduction in carbon emissions. However, the lifespan of Moneypoint is short and it is expected to close by 2025. Therefore, we must be ready to harness alternative energy sources that can connect to the grid already in place. Wave and wind energy will come into play in that regard. There are opportunities to develop our marine energy technologies. The experts claim that marine energy could provide approximately 500 MW of power by 2020. The opportunities are there for us to develop our own indigenous energy resource so that by 2020 we can turn the tables around and make Ireland an exporter of energy. We have greater potential than many other countries in terms of developing renewable energy resources because we have ten times as much ocean space as land. What is required now is the necessary investment and technology and a Government commitment to drive this forward and create jobs. I commend Deputy Coveney for introducing this important motion and hope the Government supports it.

 

“We have a rich abundance of natural resources in the Shannon area and estuary, including wind, wave, tidal and solar resources. Algae harvesting can also be done off the coast. CO2 could be filtered through the algae and seaweed as it is very good for the seaweed. The seaweed could then be used as a biofuel.”

Deputy Breen went on to say that “Deputy Coveney visited Moneypoint last year and saw for himself the environmental retrofit project being completed there by the ESB, which will lead to a significant reduction in carbon emissions. However, the lifespan of Moneypoint is short and it is expected to close by 2025. Therefore, we must be ready to harness alternative energy sources that can connect to the grid already in place.”

“We have greater potential than many other countries in terms of developing renewable energy resources because we have ten times as much ocean space as land”, he added, “what is required now is the necessary investment in technology, and a Government commitment to drive this forward and create jobs”.

See Private Members Text Underneath for your information.