Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Energy Security: Motion.
Eamon Ryan (Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South, Green Party)
Mr. Walsh recognises that the biggest constraint is the grid. One could take the approach outlined by Deputy Coveney and assess which sites are better before delivering but if the grid is not in place, the number of good sites is irrelevant. We must, first and foremost, build the grid around which Gate 3 is based.
I welcome Deputy Coveney's statement that he is wiling to support the development of the grid, subject to others being willing to support the different options. I have always done this. For example, I employed a range of consultants to examine the underground options. This approach must continue in any Bord Pleanála hearing system to ensure all options are considered. Ultimately, however, the grid must be built. While we have met our 15% target for renewables and reached second or third place in Europe in terms of integration of wind in our system - we are heading towards first place in this respect - we will not make progress unless we build our grid to tap into the potential resources available to us. This is a precursor to the wider and larger strategy set out in the Oireachtas committee two weeks ago of Ireland becoming an energy exporter.
I fully support the offshore option to which Deputy McHugh referred. While it is part of our export potential, it will not solve our transmission grid problem on land. We need a transmission grid to County Donegal, not only to enable us to transmit wind power from that county but also to create jobs in the county. The new data centre jobs which are coming to Donegal and elsewhere require that a grid is in place.