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ESRI wants energy subsidies curbed

A review of energy policy calls for an end to subsidies for offshore wind and wave electricity generators, and a curbing of subsidies for onshore wind turbines.

The review by the Economic and Social Research Institute also calls for gas from the Corrib field in Co Mayo to be brought ashore urgently, to bolster energy security.

The recession has reduced demand for energy in Ireland, and increased the need to reduce energy costs to Irish businesses and homes.

Coupled with the higher cost of capital due to the perceived risk of investing in Ireland, the ESRI says energy-related spending plans should be reviewed and policies changed.

It calls for the scrapping of subsidies to offshore wind and wave power installations, saying they could impose high costs on Irish consumers with no environmental benefit.

Onshore wind turbines can provide the energy needed, and can be justified as a hedge against high gas prices, it adds.

The review says the climate change bill could have imposed high costs on the Irish economy without environmental gains, and says future climate change policy must minimise the cost of compliance.

It also says Ireland’s electricity supply is at risk because almost all natural gas – which fuels 57% of the State’s power stations – comes through a single pipeline from Scotland.

To overcome this vulnerability, the State either needs to invest in a second gas interconnector, or move urgently to ensure that Shell brings the Corrib gas field into production, the ESRI argues.

This would provide the State with two sources of gas supply for the next five years, at no cost to the taxpayer, it says.