Ireland must double green energy use to meet EU targets and is developing guidelines to help local authorities set up renewable energy projects to achieve this.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) - Ireland's national energy authority - has launched draft guidelines to create a "structured and consistent framework" for renewable energy planning. It is now looking for comments from local authorities, renewable energy planners and developers, the general public and other interested parties.
Last year renewable energy saved 3.6m tonnes of C02 emissions in Ireland but it is still a long way from meeting its 2020 binding target of cutting 8m tonnes. Meeting these targets would mean cutting €1bn in annual fossil fuel imports, which Motherway described as a "key driver" in green energy in Ireland. The move would also create an estimated 13,000 jobs. By 2020 it must also make 16% of its energy from renewables - thanks to a 20% increase last year it now stands at 6.5%.
The guidelines want each local authority to develop its own renewable energy plan. Motherway said that many councils were already taking this approach and that the guidelines were "pushing at an open door".
He said the strategy would mean local authorities consulted with local people and interested parties about what types of renewable energy were suitable for that area. This would be in advance of, and in addition to, considering individual projects. This will also be useful for developers and investors.
"A lot of it is about allowing people to raise concerns to be debated," said Motherway. "There are certainly places where wind farms, for example, shouldn't be built and others that are much more suitable."
As a known and tested technology wind - which is the main growth area in renewable energy in Ireland - is not having problems attracting investment and Motherwell said it is as economically viable as gas and electricity. He added that Ireland did, however, need to "retain a focus" on alternative renewable energy technologies that weren't yet so advanced.
The country has ambitious growth plans in this area and Motherway added: "Ireland is aiming to become an energy exporter so it's no longer about meeting our own needs."
This article is from Edie Newsroom