Energy policy must be ‘reset’ as Government publishes White Paper, says Engineers Ireland

Energy policy must be ‘reset’ as Government publishes White Paper, says Engineers Ireland

01 December 2015 at 09:36

• Director General says economic growth needs balanced energy mix and more
   investment in infrastructure
• New TASC report on infrastructure shows more investment needed in
   economy’s productive capacity

1 December 2015

Engineers Ireland, the professional body representing 23,000 engineers across every discipline of the sector, has called on the Government to reset Ireland’s energy policy and avoid an over-dependence on fossil fuels that could hold back growth in the economy.

Caroline Spillane, Engineers Ireland’s Director General, urged the Government to publish the energy White Paper without delay, saying it needs to be ambitious for the potential for renewable energy sources to diversify our future energy mix.

“The delay in publishing the White Paper on Energy is causing uncertainty for the private sector which wants to invest as the economy turns. We need clarity from the Government about the profile of Ireland’s future energy mix which should include a mix of fossil and sustainable sources. Investment in Ireland’s renewable energy can bring down energy bills in the long term, spur investment and new enterprises, appeal to an increasing number of foreign direct investors who want 100% renewable energy and deliver our fair share of the global effort to tackle climate change,” said Ms Spillane.

The Government has pledged to publish energy White Paper this month, setting out our energy policy up to 2030. Last year, just less than 23% of electricity was generated from renewable sources.

“Engineers Ireland believes that, by 2030, it is possible to achieve and increase that share if Government creates an energy policy, with the appropriate mix of incentives, vision and targets, that will underpin Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon society. Ireland can lead the world on renewable sources balanced against a proportionate share of fossil fuels,” said Ms Spillane.

She was speaking at the launch today of a report by TASC, ‘A Time For Ambition: Ensuring Prosperity through investment,’ which argues that the Government must tackle the underspend in infrastructure. The report has been developed by Paul Sweeney, Chair of TASC’s Economists’ Network and can be viewed here.

‘TASC’s report highlights an investment crisis in national infrastructure. Our spend as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product was the lowest in the European Union in 2013, and the fall in infrastructural investment since 2008 is the sharpest across member states. As TASC shows, governments should be like businesses, not households, when it comes to spending. They should borrow, invest, expand, repay debt and prosper,” said Ms Spillane.

Engineers Ireland has called for a single Government unit to plan and fund the country’s long-term strategic infrastructure needs across the economy. The unit, sitting in the Taoiseach’s office, would better integrate investment in key areas like transport, education, health, energy and the digital economy. Engineers Ireland believes the Government’s €27 billion capital plan would not meet the needs of the economy.

‘With the projected pace of economic growth, the country’s capital infrastructure will not be enough to meet demand in the coming years. We are investing too little, the timeframe for project delivery is too long, and we are not thinking strategically enough about the long-term needs of the country.

“Engineers Ireland’s focus is on building a modern capital infrastructure that underpins sustainable economic growth, raised living standards, and a sustainable environment. The problems that face the world can be solved collectively, with engineers across all disciplines working together and supported by responsive and responsible public policy,” said Ms Spillane.