Perhaps the luck of the Irish will help make green dreams come true when it comes to the country’s goal to shift away from fossil fuels. Situated at the end of the supply chain and currently 90 percent dependent on imported oil, Ireland hopes to get 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 – far exceeding the EU’s target of 16 percent.
But luck might not be necessary in a nation driven by an urgent need for employment. Ireland sees its financial difficulties and depressed economy not as a hurdle to going green, but a major motivator. Switching to wind power and other renewables would not only provide thousands of jobs, but stabilize dramatic swings in oil and gas prices. Additionally, Ireland’s prospects are looking far sunnier than its trademark misty gray skies.
“We have doubled our renewable energy. We can double it and double it again,” says Eamon Ryan, Ireland’s minister for communications, energy and natural resources. “It is the perfect answer to the recessionary blues.”
Of course, it’s not as simple as throwing up some wind turbines and calling it a day. Just as it is here in America, one of the biggest obstacles is an aging electrical grid – but a grid interconnector directly from Ireland to Britain is currently being built, and with an energy minister who’s devoted to renewables, more improvements are sure to come.
What’s the biggest thing this island nation has going for it? Shoreline, and lots of it. Ireland has enough land and ocean space to provide its own wind power and even have enough to export to other countries. Five offshore wind farm projects are in the pipeline and marine energy is a possibility in the future.
Ireland is looking beyond the estimated $1.33 billion price tag, seeing it as an investment in the future – for both its people and the environment. Perhaps we should sit back and take some notes.
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