The Irish minister for energy has announced that Ireland will phase out fossil fuels from its energy mix by the end of the century, but the owners of the country’s largest power plant believes more careful consideration is needed.
A spokesperson from ESB, the owners of Moneypoint coal-fired power plant, told Power Engineering International, that the government should not rule out the prospect of cleaner coal technology being a better solution in Ireland’s strategy to lower its carbon emissions.
The government’s White Paper on Energy has called for Ireland to cease its use of fossil fuels by the end of the century. The document was published by Minister for Communications and Energy Alex White this week.
Mr White said the policy builds on the ambition of the Paris Agreement on global climate change which was formally ratified last weekend.
However in an email statement to Power Engineering International, ESB said retention of its coal power generation might prove to be the better option from both an economic and environmental perspective.
Particular reference was made to the ongoing ineffectiveness of the EU ETS to incentivise reductions in carbon emissions. The price of CO2 remains at sub-EUR10/tonne.
“These decisions on Moneypoint needs to be carefully considered against the backdrop of these economic benefits, impact on the environment and emergence of new technologies (such as carbon capture) which may enable low carbon coal burn in the future,” the statement reads. “A premature closure of the station would forsake these economic benefits and would not reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in Europe as the reduction in emissions in Ireland would be offset by increased emissions across Europe, given the nature of the cap and trade emissions trading scheme.”
The paper sets out the long-term goals for energy use in Ireland. Mr White said Ireland was still dependent on fossil fuels which provide 92 per cent of the energy share for the country at present.
He said by 2050, the share of non-carbon and renewable sources would be between and 80 per cent and 95 per cent. Ireland would be wholly fossil free by the end of the century, he said.
The White Paper sets out a wide range of solutions to replacing fossil fuels as our primary sources of energy.
The measures include a substantial expansion of solar power, primarily through solar farms; the increased use of bio-energy (including bio fuel crops), as well as tapping the potential of ocean and tide energy.
The minister said solar farms could be located in the southern tip of the country, while the main source of renewables for the foreseeable future will be wind-farms.
There was no definite view expressed on nuclear power, or on fracking, but the ministry was awaiting evaluations being conducted on the suitability of both in an Irish context.
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