On Friday, Eirgrid announced that peak electricity demand had been surpassed twice in the previous seven days. It was ironic that this came on the day that the first of two midlands peat stations, Shannonbridge in County Offaly, were officially closed. The remaining peat station at Lough Ree will shut down next Friday.
The reasons given by Eirgrid for the emergency which might potentially have led to power cuts was that the supply of wind generated electricity is too unreliable, and worse – for any self-respecting and allegedly sovereign state – that there was insufficient back up from the inter connectors to Britain.
Not only is that rather embarrassing for a state that is in the process of liquidating its only viable domestic source of electricity (with peat stations accounting for 8% in 2018), but of course the Greens and their converts in the other two Government parties are quite happy to buy electricity from Britain which generates 20% of its electricity in nuclear plants. They happily ignore that they were totally opposed to nuclear power in this country when it was a viable alternative to imported fossil fuels.
While much has been made in recent years of the reduction in dependency on fuel imports, Ireland still imports close to 70% of its requirements according to the SEAI Report for 2019.) For all the attention given to the contribution of renewable sources, the real reason for the reduction from our almost 90% import dependency in 2015 was the massive growth in output from the Corrib gas field.
Gas production is forecast to decline over the next decade and to cease in 2030. In the meantime the Green Party have succeeded as part of their agreement to form the current coalition in committing the state to ending all fossil fuel production. That had also been a demand of the other extremist parties of the left.
Whatever the legitimate arguments in favour of the Irish state securing a better deal regarding the terms and conditions governing the licenses in the Corrib Basin, to close it down and to refuse to allow any further exploration seems to be another case of ideology trumping everything else.
If Eirgrid are to be believed, then an increasing reliance, or optimism, with regard to wind as the main renewable substitute appears rather foolhardy if it is as undependable as it would seem. Dependency on gas imports is expected to increase to 90% of overall gas requirements by 2030.
Like many things they missed as they were blindly batting for Team Brussels, our “elite” is only now pondering how all of this might be addressed. As with fish, taking the side of the EU rather than soberly attempting to strike deals with Britain post-Brexit that might accrue to the state’s rather than the EU’s benefit, may greatly exacerbate things.
On the one hand the EU’s strictures on member states and their energy supply poses a threat to the gas connector to Scotland; on the other Eirgrid is still waiting for the same EU to approve a €930 million connection to France.
Meanwhile, in another case of putting the cart before the horse, the destruction of the peat sector will further increase import dependency. How the Irish state is going to juggle all of this in order to meet the EU mandatory target of 70% renewable electricity generation by 2030 is anyone’s guess. It was 32% in 2018.
Do the Greens really care? The peat stations not only supplied a significant amount of our electricity needs, but also employed many thousands of people. Over the course of its 52 years, Shannonbridge employed some 6,000 people and was a vital part of a local economy which had a multiplier impact on all other aspects of business, and indeed social and cultural life. I doubt many people in Offaly and Laois will smile in appreciation of the contrasting fortunes of their communities and those of local Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett who campaigned for the closure in the last general election. She only received 5% of the vote and failed to be elected.
So how is she a Minster you wonder? Well, because she already had a seat in the Seanad and was reappointed – and then made a Minister. And lest the good people of Offaly might miss her she ensured that her husband was co-opted to her County Council seat without the inconvenience of having to put himself up for election.
Pippa herself was elected on just 7% in the 2019 local elections, more or less what her party took in the February general elections, so no-one will ever accuse her of being popular never mind populist. When defending the planned decimation of the local economy during her February hustings, she described the bogs as a “mother figure.” A welfare queen mother figure perhaps now that the bog matriarch has been thrown onto the scratcher along with her greedy selfish habitat destroying dependents.
If it was possible to rub salt into the wounds of the closure, then the Greens have managed to do this by refusing to even countenance an alternative renewable energy source in biomass processed in the old plant. Supporters of that proposal claim that it would create some 4,000 seasonable jobs, and provide a significant boost to local farm incomes of several hundred euro per hectare.
Instead, those left out of work by the closures are presumably expected to wait until the trees which the makey up unelected Minister was cheerfully shown on the main evening news planting on the day they got their last pay check are fully grown. Wait for what you might ask? For Green tourists to arrive in their electric cars and maybe buy models of the old generating station whittled from bog wood? Although there is probably some directive against that.
When the renowned journalist John Healy wrote his 1968 book on the social and economic death of his native Charlestown, county Mayo, his preferred title was No One Shouted Stop. Clearly, no-one seems to be prepared to tell the Green Party to Stop, or better still to climb back into their biodegradable box, as their extremism brings down another rural community.
Of course it is not all the Green’s own doing. All of the parties in Leinster House have signed up to the ‘green agenda’ and are prepared to do whatever it requires to meet some target set in an office in Brussels, while the main polluters on the planet like China continue to spew carbon into the atmosphere like there was no tomorrow.
Not only that, but the same politicians are – completely contradictorily – supporting the lunacy of pretending to balance this environmental totalitarianism with the exponential urbanisation of the state under Project 2040 which entails the importation of a million non nationals to live in high rise apartments and work in low wage jobs.
Whatever happened to the Green goal of sustainable development? And whatever happened to a society being more than an economy? Especially one that is set upon a path, all going to plan, that will create some bizarre post national globalised subsistence dystopia if the current contradictory dogmas continue to be its driving force. Someone needs to shout stop.