What do you call a country that shuts down two of its power stations for ideological reasons, and then has to scramble to avoid the risks of electricity blackouts during the winter? If you do not know the answer to that, let me tell you: Stupid. A Stupid country does that.
And it is exactly what Ireland has done.
The Green Party wants Ireland’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources. It believes that peat and coal power plants harm the environment. So, the logic goes, close them down, and get our electricity from the wind, and the waves, and the sun, and, if all else fails, buy some electricity off the British and the French, who have the nuclear power plants that Ireland could never countenance because, well, not in our back yard.
The problem with that policy is that the wind does not always blow, the sun does not always shine, and the tides make installing tidal energy systems exceedingly expensive. Everybody else in the world knows this. In Ireland, having banned peat extraction, we are now importing peat from overseas. Again, the world looks on and marvels at the folly. The Green Party, and the Irish State, alone, apparently do not know or notice. Or, perhaps, more accurately, they know and do not care. Appearing to save the planet is more important than keeping the heating on in wintertime, in that view of the world.
Of course, the Government can live with electricity blackouts if they only affect the hapless citizenry. Such blackouts can be blamed on other factors: Maintenance. The need to invest in the network. People not using energy efficiently. All of those things are ripe for patient lectures on Prime Time from our political class: They would happily, and delightfully, gaslight you into believing that poor supply, and higher prices, were actually your fault, and not theirs. Ryan Tubridy would doubtless be delighted to do a Late Late special on it: “Switch off, Flatten the Curve”, except for electricity demand this time, and only so long as you do not switch off the Late Late. Some things, you see, are worth the carbon emissions.
But then along comes INTEL, and makes it clear: Actually, we can’t risk building a factory in your country because you can’t guarantee something as basic as electricity. It becomes very hard, suddenly, to pretend that this is the fault of grannies leaving the porch light on all night, or whatever.
And so, the Government must scramble. Eamon Ryan’s latest plan – wait for it – to avoid electricity disaster this winter is to “import generators”.
That’s right. Having closed down two working and operational power plants, he now wants to import generators. These generators run on gas, and are vastly less efficient than the power plants he shut down. There is even talk of opening those plants back up again. The whole thing is a monstrous nonsense.
Government does not have many jobs. We do not ask much of it: It is there mainly to provide the things that we cannot provide for ourselves as individuals: Roads, Schools, Hospitals, Policing, Power, and Infrastructure. As bad as the Irish state has been, at times, during the 100 years since independence, it has mostly managed to do these things relatively well. At least it did, until Eamon Ryan got the keys to the country.
Now, it is the ideological position of the Government that the country should not, necessarily, provide electricity. Not if doing so “harms the planet”. Never mind that other countries, like China, are opening hundreds of coal powered electricity plants annually: The Irish should sit in the dark, and prove how good we are. Eamon will get praised for it at the COP26 conference.
What is remarkable is how willingly so many citizens tolerate this absurd, and absolute, nonsense. A year ago, we had a working electricity grid. Today, we have a crisis. It is a crisis created for us by Minister Ryan, who is, and has ever been, an absolute fool.
The initial cost of this foolishness may be 10,000 jobs. The longer term consequence of it will be much greater than that.
It will be higher electricity costs. After all, the wind energy we have is already heavily subsidised. You pay for it twice: In your bill, which is the obvious cost, and in your taxes, which is the hidden cost. The Irish Government, after all, is behind the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), with an estimated budget of between €7.2 billion and €12.5 billion, for green power production from sources including solar and wind farms. You’re literally paying billions more, on top of your bills, just so Eamon Ryan and chums can look at windmills and smile.
At some stage, those subsidies must end, and your bills will go up, even more than they have already. Electricity is not immune, and never will be, to the laws of supply and demand.
It has taken INTEL, a multinational company, to make journalists and the media pay attention to this disgrace. They can see, from afar, what the wilfully blind cannot apparently see here at home: That Minister Ryan, and the Greens, are in the process of destroying Ireland’s electricity infrastructure, and doing almost irreparable damage to the country’s infrastructure, and reputation.
Only an absolute idiot would vote for any of this. Which makes it all the more of a pity, then, that the electorate seems to have so many of them in its ranks.