The publication of a White Paper, setting out the Irish government's latest vision for energy policy, is expected later this year. Ahead of this publication, Minister for Energy Alex White TD held a public consultation session in Dublin Castle in June which provided an early insight into what this policy is likely to contain. Community engagement appears, at this early stage, to be the big winner.
The Context: Towards an Energy White Paper
In May 2014, the then Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte TD published a Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland. The aim of that paper was to stimulate a discussion between citizens, policymakers, academics, energy companies and energy stakeholders on a vision for Irish energy policy. Informed by this discussion, the resulting policy would then be reflected in a White Paper. The Green Paper invited feedback from interested parties on six policy priority areas and sought suggestions as to any additional issues which should be considered in the White Paper.
What Priorities were Identified in the Green Paper?
The six policy priority areas identified back in May 2014, to assist in framing the energy policy discussion, were:
(i) empowering energy citizens;
(ii) markets and regulation;
(iii) planning and implementing essential energy infrastructure;
(iv) ensuring a balanced and secure energy mix;
(v) putting the energy system on a sustainable pathway; and
(vi) driving economic opportunity.
On 3rd June 2015, Minister for Energy Alex White TD held a "citizen and public stakeholder information session" in Dublin Castle, which seemed to be intended to sate the public appetite for energy policy insight, while the White Paper is awaited.
In front of an audience of almost 300 energy stakeholders and interested parties, the Minister stated that:
the ultimate goal is the decarbonisation of Ireland's energy production and use, and a transition to a low-carbon sector by 2050; new sources of renewable energy would be developed during Ireland's transition including solar photovoltaic, off-shore wind and carbon capture and storage. In particular, the Minister noted the development of an Off-Shore Renewable Energy Development Plan and a Bioenergy Action Plan that would focus on heat and transport. A key theme was an intention to depart from the current reliance on on-shore wind farms as Ireland's primary source of renewable energy, in favour of a more diverse range of energy options; it is important to balance...