Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara has criticised the Government’s policy of closing power stations during an energy crisis in the hope that they will eventually be replaced with green energy sources at an unspecified time in the future.
Deputy McNamara says that in the absence of assurances that Ireland will have alternative energy sources in place by 2025, the slated closure date for Moneypoint, the Government should reverse its decision regarding the West Clare power generating station.
Speaking in the Dáil last week during a debate on a Bill introducing the €100 electricity credit scheme for householders, Deputy McNamara said growing concerns over Ireland’s energy security are being exacerbated by the closure of the country’s power stations and increasing reliance on imported high carbon energy sources.
He stated, “I do have a problem with coal-powered energy, and I look forward to the day it is replaced. I live in the real world, however, where it is not being replaced today and it will not be replaced tomorrow. Instead of generating such energy here in Ireland and instead of having some degree of energy security in the State, we are at the mercy of other states.”
Deputy McNamara continued, “I look forward to the day when Moneypoint is replaced and retrofitted with hydrogen technology that is able to bring the energy onshore, and there will be huge, vast amounts of energy that we can turn into hydrogen and store in the form of hydrogen. However, I accept the reality that it is not going to be today, it is not going to be next month or next year, and that we are going to need energy during all those times and especially when the wind is not blowing. We also must power the incubators, the hospitals and industries when the wind is not blowing.”
“There is a lot of hyperbole going about, celebrating 100 years of the State,” commented Deputy McNamara. “One of the first priorities was to power this nation. If we cannot power this nation ourselves, we have no degree of independence or self-sufficiency and we have utterly failed. It seems to me the failure continues in both the aspirational approach – aspirations I agree with, but we have to deal with here and now as well as how we transition to something better – and in the failure to have a larger energy debate. No matter how much wind energy we bring in, and I am hopeful the technology around converting energy into hydrogen might be the solution, we really have to look at other alternatives.”
“Given the long-term nature of such green projects, I question why the Government has taken the decision to power down Moneypoint,” added the Clare TD.
Addressing Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications Ossian Smyth, Deputy McNamara said, “We have to have the least environmentally damaging type of energy possible as soon as possible. In the interim, we must have energy security. We do not have it and I do not see any sign of addressing it. That is a massive concern to me.”
In response, Minister of State Smyth stated, “Deputy McNamara referred to the longer-term issue of energy generation. When we are faced with a big problem, we have to tackle both. We have a short-term energy crisis. We have people who are cold in their homes and cannot afford to pay their bills. We also have a longer term and a medium-term problem. All those things need to be tackled. None of the solutions will be ideal or attractive to everybody.”