How Does This Affect Me?
The extreme weather events that we have seen in recent years are the first really noticeable manifestation of climate change. Continuing to pump greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere will lead to a significant worsening of our weather for generations to come. CO2 is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Wind energy is Irelands greatest asset in combating the effects of Climate Change.
Currently, the electricity generation system in Ireland relies on vast amounts of fossil fuels to generate our electricity.
Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has stated that in 2017 wind energy:
-> Reduced CO2 emissions by 2.7 Million tonnes. This is the equivalent emissions of approximately 900,000 cars on our roads!
Studies have been carried out which confirm that proposed wind farms would generate enough green electricity to displace the amount of carbon used during its manufacture and construction within months of operation. After this, all electricity generated would displace carbon which would be released from burning fossil fuels.
Wind energy is Irelands most effective means of reducing the amount of CO2 that we are emitting into the atmosphere.
A core building block of Irelands Climate Action Plan 2019 is to increase Ireland’s renewable energy electricity generation to 70% by 2030. It is accepted within this plan that the development of onshore wind energy (along with other sources) will be required in order to achieve these targets.
Currently, we are not on track to achieve our renewable energy targets. The Irish government has conceded that we will miss our 2020 renewable energy targets. The estimated costs associated with missing these targets is €150,000,000 per year and this will involve paying other countries for their surplus carbon credits. This is money going out of Ireland to the benefit of countries who have taken effective climate action and who are now reaping the rewards. This is €150,000,000 that could alternatively be spent on education, health, transport or rural development etc. in this country.
Wind energy is our largest and cheapest resource in terms of producing renewable energy. Each wind energy project that is developed will reduce the fines that we will be incurring year on year. In 2018, wind energy accounted for 30% of the total electricity demand in the country. It is clear that wind energy offers Ireland the most effective means of reaching our renewable energy targets.
Despite the fact that wind energy saved Ireland a far greater amount (€226,000,000 saved in fossil fuel imports in 2017), the €150,000,000 in fines are not something that we as a country need to incur. The development of renewable energy will remove these fines and wind energy has the greatest capacity to achieve this in the cheapest and most effective way.
Urban settlements situated on major inland rivers such as the River Shannon and towns along the coast will experience more frequent and more severe flooding.
If we do not develop renewable energy and stop burning fossil fuels, severe flooding events will become more frequent and more severe. Wind energy is playing a major role in producing electricity which would otherwise be generated from burning fossil fuels which are causing our climate to change so dramatically.
Ireland’s agricultural industry will face severe challenges. The farming sector is heavily impacted by the weather and our climate. More frequent severe weather events such as those we have experienced in Ireland in recent years will lead to greater challenges in terms of animal and crop husbandry, changing disease controls, and challenges in terms of policy changes aimed at reducing carbon emissions. In short, Agriculture will most likely be one of the industries worst impacted by climate change.
Wind energy is our best way of reducing our carbon emissions from the energy sector and ensuring that we take effective climate action. In the long term, with reduced emission from energy, and effective climate action, Agriculture will benefit significantly from avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Climate action needs to be balanced and the policies that are developed in tackling climate change need to support a sustainable long-term solution for both climate change and our food production and processing industries.
The more renewable energy that we develop, the more scope there will be for Ireland to develop its agricultural sector. In global terms, Ireland has one of the most efficient food production processes in terms of carbon cost per kg. Our Agricultural emissions are high due to the simple fact that we produce a lot of food. Ireland is facing a very real challenge to reduce its overall carbon emissions. According to SEAI figures, wind energy avoided 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2017. This very significantly contributed to our overall targets. Without the development of wind energy, other sectors, including agriculture, would be tasked with providing increased carbon reductions. This in effect would be an unbalanced answer to the issues that we are faced with.
The EPA reports that 3 people die prematurely every day in Ireland directly as a result of poor air quality.
Wind energy provides pure, green, renewable electricity with no emissions. With less polluting fossil fuels being burned, our air quality will improve.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has warned that drainage channels and culverts around older bridges may have to be replaced as a result of the increased volumes of water associated with climate change. Irish Water have also said that increased flooding could hamper the ability of their plants to provide clean and safe drinking water.
Wind energy is playing a significant role in helping us avoid the worst effects of climate change which would see more frequent and severe events that would affect our infrastructure and consequently, our water quality.
EU and government targets, which are centred around moving Europe and Ireland towards low carbon economies, will affect government policy into the future. This will have a knock-on impact on the way in which we carry on our daily lives.
Wind energy is playing a major role in helping Ireland reach its climate action targets.
It is not possible to have effective climate action without displacing fossil fuels. Ireland has the wind energy resources to power our country and along with the right renewable energy mix which would include solar, biomass and energy storage facilities, this is possible.
In recent times a discussion has been raised regarding the potential to develop nuclear energy in Ireland in order to displace fossil fuels. Many people will have their own views on this but essentially, if we harness our wind energy resource, there will be no need for us to consider this alternative.
Should Ireland not tackle its imported fossil fuel dependencies, we will not only be exposed to any volatility that accompanies the importation of fuel, but we will also continue to depend on commodities whose reserves are finite.
Ireland has one of the best wind resources in the world and we have the capacity to harness this energy, yet we remain heavily dependant on importing expensive and polluting fossil fuels.
SEAI figures for 2017 show that Wind Energy saved Ireland:
- €226 Million euro in fossil fuel imports
- 1 Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent (Mtoe)
- 7 Million Tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2)
In 2017, approximately 24% of Irish electricity was generated by wind energy. In 2018, this increased to approximately 30%. In the first quarter of 2019 figures show that almost 37% of our electricity was generated by wind energy. The ambition is to increase renewable energy on the Irish grid system to 70% by 2030.
The more renewable energy that we develop in Ireland the greater the savings in terms of money and carbon that will be achieved. This will not only mean that we will not be as dependant on other countries for our energy needs as we are now but it will also bring environmental and financial benefits.
It is now accepted within the scientific community that unless action is taken to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, climate change will have serious and dramatic impacts on all of our ways of life. The aim is to limit temperature increases to 1.5oC as this would significantly reduce risks and the implications of climate change.
Our wind energy resource is Ireland’s greatest asset in taking effective climate action that will ultimately lead to the limiting of global temperature increase. It is accepted that in order to limit the increase in global temperatures, we must limit the amount of CO2 that we are emitting into the atmosphere.
Here in Ireland in 2017, wind energy avoided the emission of 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 which equates to the emission of 900,000 cars on our roads.