EU energy targets could be reached without upgrading the electricity network or wind farms according to a new report.
Kildare Environmental Awareness Group (KEAG) has highlighted a report issued last week by BW Energy on the possibility of converting Money Point coal fired power station to biomass.
It says this reveals Ireland could easily meet its EU commitments for a fraction of the cost of the current plan.
At present, three companies plan on building wind farms in the midlands including Kildare.
However, a government deal to export the energy to the UK has fallen through, so it remains to be seen if the projects will go ahead in their original size and number.
The upgrade of the national grid by EirGrid will also see a high voltage power line pass through South Kildare on it’s way to Cork.
“We in the KEAG believe this is a well researched report and we call on the government to give it serious consideration,” said the group.
BW Energy believe the conversion of Moneypoint from coal to biomass is a low cost alternative to Grid25 (the grid upgrade) that would make it possible to meet Irish renewable energy targets for 2020.
“The report, by consultants Dr Anthony White and Malcolm Brown of BW Energy, also makes clear that gradual conversion to biomass at Moneypoint, would enable Ireland to meet its renewable energy commitments cost effectively, without the massive Grid25 upgrade required by Ireland’s current “all wind” policy.
The report, “Review of the Irish Government’s Strategy for Compliance with the European Directive 2009/28”, was commissioned by ReThink Pylons, a volunteer organisation working to stimulate a rethink of Irish energy policy, including Grid25,” said KEAG.
The consultants found the market for biomass has been transformed in the last five years, making security of supply through long-term fixed price contracts a reality.
It said there was also a possibility of job creation through burning locally grown biomass.
It said at an estimated cost of €380 million, conversion of Moneypoint would enable Ireland to meet its renewable energy target at a tenth of the €3.8 billion cost of the government’s current plan.
In light of this report, KEAG is calling again on the Irish Government to re-examine its energy policy and is asking for a fundamental rethink of Grid25, Grid Link and associated projects.
The wind energy companies have stressed the benefits of wind farms including community funds for nearby areas, and the creation of employment.
They have pointed out there are 1,300 wind turbines in Ireland sustaining 3,400 jobs and coexisting harmoniously with neighbours, agriculture and wildlife. EirGrid says the grid upgrade is necessary for the country and the under grounding of cables was not feasible and would prove too costly.