Ireland

Transition to renewables will require ‘huge national effort’, energy summit told

Tanaiste Micheal Martin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan during a meeting with private, public and voluntary stakeholders at the Energy Summit (Liam McBurney/PA)
Tanaiste Micheal Martin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan during a meeting with private, public and voluntary stakeholders at the Energy Summit (Liam McBurney/PA) Tanaiste Micheal Martin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan during a meeting with private, public and voluntary stakeholders at the Energy Summit (Liam McBurney/PA)

Realising Ireland’s potential to generate renewable energy will require a huge national effort, the Tanaiste has told key figures in the industry.

Micheal Martin joined Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan at an Energy Summit in Government Buildings in Dublin on Thursday.

The event brought together private, public and voluntary stakeholders in the energy sector.

The summit was convened to discuss how best to shift Ireland away from fossil fuels and towards indigenous, renewable energy sources.

Audit Scotland report
Audit Scotland report Micheal Martin highlighted the enormous potential for offshore energy production (PA)

In his opening remarks, Mr Martin said the Programme for Government had identified renewable energy, and offshore renewable energy in particular, as an area of enormous potential and a strategic priority for Ireland.

“The war in Ukraine and the disruptive effect that it has had on energy markets has only reinforced the urgency and importance of realising that potential,” he said

The Tanaiste added: “What is very clear is that our ambitions require a huge national effort involving all arms of the State, the business sector, and the wider community.

“I am hugely optimistic about what we can achieve as a country, and I see today as an opportunity to listen to the views of you, as leaders across different sectors, on how we can collectively deliver on the enormous changes that are necessary.

“As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I am acutely conscious of how this energy transformation is being driven across Europe – with even more ambitious targets and regulations agreed over the past 18 months since the invasion of Ukraine.

“I believe Ireland can, should, and will play an important role in Europe’s energy transformation – given the potential of our offshore resources in particular.

“The 1.6 billion euro Celtic Interconnector project, which will connect our national grid into the European mainland, and which is currently under way, is crucial in that regard.

“We have made the political commitment, and now the big challenge, which I look forward to hearing more about today, is delivery, delivery, delivery.”

Ireland Energy Summit
Ireland Energy Summit Tanaiste Micheal Martin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan listen to Helen Brophy, director general at the Institute of Public Administration, at the Energy Summit (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Martin asked the stakeholders what Government could do to secure buy-in from across society for the changes he said were required.

“We should be honest that alongside the massive potential of what we are undertaking, some of the change will be difficult – not just the financial and technological challenges, but building greater community support for grid infrastructure, wind turbines and solar panels, and getting better and smarter on how and when we use energy,” he added.

“But there are great examples from abroad which we can learn from, and scope to develop unique Irish capacities and skills over the years ahead.

“My hope is that we are able to look back in 20 years’ time – when people from other parts of the world are visiting Ireland to learn from us – and be satisfied that as a nation, we made the very most of the opportunity we have been presented with.”