Response to Energy White Paper

March 13, 2007 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Charting a sustainable energy policy and preparing the country for rapid global warming are the two biggest challenges facing the State. The government’s White Paper proposes that 33% of our electricity will come from renewable energy sources by 2020. But this is merely aspirational because such a commitment is not integrated into the social and economic framework needed to bring it about. The Paper fails to adequately address transportation and industry as critical sources of greenhouse emissions. Let me outline this with a few illustrations:

 

  1. We need micro-generation of electricity using diverse but complementary power sources. This would give rise to community grids connected into national and European grids so that energy deficits can be imported and energy surpluses exported. But this requires new infrastructure and new community planning.
  2. We need an emphasis on organic agriculture so that food is grown as locally as possible without recourse to chemical fertilizers and the need for long transportation chains.
  3. We need to radically reduce private car usage. This requires new public transport facilities and the integration of work and home and a sustained effort to eliminate long car-based commuting.
  4. We need businesses and factories to develop local energy sources and to be rewarded for so doing.
  5. We need to derive significant financial returns from indigenous fossil fuel sources such as Corrib in order to invest in developing and supporting renewable and micro energy systems.

In summary, real energy sustainability will require a real de-centralisation of the society and economy. There is no evidence from the White Paper that the government is thinking along these necessary lines.

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