In a detailed Budget 2024 submission Wind Energy Ireland has called on the government to give the planning system the resources it needs to help accelerate renewable energy projects and to establish a National Climate Emergency Communications Unit.

The representative body warned that with lengthy timelines for the delivery of infrastructure, Budget 2024 will be Ireland’s last opportunity to put in place the resources and expertise needed to achieve our 2030 targets.

The document, titled Ireland’s Energy Revolution, outlines Wind Energy Ireland’s recommendations to government ahead of the next budget that will be announced in October.

Energy independent

Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland said: “We believe that Budget 2024 provides the government with an opportunity to invest resources in the key building blocks for an Ireland which is energy independent and well on the way to net zero.  

“Giving the planning system the resources it needs to ensure applications for renewable energy projects are thoroughly, but quickly, assessed is a vital investment for our future.

“That means agreeing with an Bord Pleanála, the NPWS, MARA and local authorities the number of staff, with the right expertise, they will need to assess the renewable energy projects essential to our Climate Action Plan targets.

“It is also an opportunity begin taking seriously the need to empower communities to be part of Ireland’s response to the climate emergency, to be leaders in our renewable energy revolution.

“Whether it is increasing our usage of electric vehicles, supporting active travel or installing solar panels, educating businesses and communities about sustainable solutions should be at the forefront of our efforts to inspire people to change.

“That is why we are calling for the establishment of a dedicated National Climate Emergency Communications Unit to ensure people have the information they need.”

Funding to support the electrification of our energy system and investment in skills development are also addressed in the pre-budget submission. It highlights the need to have the necessary grid infrastructure in place to distribute energy to our homes, businesses and transport systems.

Financial incentives

Cunniffe said: “Budget 2024 is an opportunity to provide adequate funding and financial incentives for key infrastructure like EV charging points, facilitating commercial car fleet electrification, industrial and domestic heat electrification.

“When our renewable energy is flowing we need to have a society that can use the electricity generated. This means having the grid infrastructure in place to distribute the energy to our homes, businesses and transport systems. All of these need to rapidly change to electricity as their primary source of power and away from polluting fossil fuels.”

Wind Energy Ireland has also again called for the establishment of a cross governmental group to develop recommendations on ways to reduce the cost of developing renewable electricity in Ireland.

“We know that consumers and businesses are struggling every day with high energy bills and they need their electricity to be affordable as well as clean.

“We would welcome the opportunity to support the government in examining ways to reduce the cost of developing renewable electricity and help drive energy bills down. Funding a cross government group to lead this would be a strong start.

“The good news is that if the investment is there, if government, industry and communities work closely together, we can and will deliver the Climate Action Plan targets and make Ireland a true leader in renewable energy.”

WEI’s pre-budget submission is available to read in full here.