The energy sector in Ireland is facing a fundamental shift from a number of key drivers. The European single-energy market is now taking shape with integration of electricity markets and a further shift towards a single natural gas market. There are ambitious plans, and existing targets, to double the amount of renewable energy by 2020, with most of this coming from onshore wind – which has led to some public disquiet.
These changes will need to be facilitated by an expanded electricity grid. This year has also seen an increase in interest in the Irish oil and gas exploration sector.
All these developments will be examined at this year’s Energy Ireland conference, which takes place in Croke Park, Dublin on 18 and 19 June. Energy Ireland, now in its 18th year, is Ireland’s largest and longest-established energy conference, attended every year by all the key players in the Irish energy sector as well as many from further afield who maintain an interest in how the energy sector in Ireland is developing.
Each year, the conference examines the latest developments in the Irish energy sector by way of an expert panel of speakers, including local industry leaders, policy-makers and regulators. In addition, the conference regularly attracts high-level international speakers who look at major energy issues in the wider European or global context.
This year’s conference sees over 40 local and international speakers come together to look at the challenges and opportunities facing the Irish energy sector across the following themes: the future of energy policy; European energy market reform; reaching the 2020 renewable energy targets; prospects for oil and gas; natural gas market outlook; energy infrastructure; alternative sources of renewable energy and energy in transport.
The first day of the conference will include an opening address from Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, as well as a presentation from the energy regulator. With the publication of the new energy Green Paper imminent, there will be much interest in what the Minister has to say in terms of outlining future energy policy.
Speaking ahead of the paper’s publication, the Minister commented that both the Green Paper and the new national planning framework for renewable energy were being “driven by the goal of decarbonisation” for the electricity sector, especially in view of the “shocking implications” of the UN’s latest scientific report on climate change.
Other sessions will examine energy market reform, including the challenges of developing an integrated European electricity market and the implications this will have on the single electricity market. It will also look at the changes taking place across the natural gas sector.
As well as a dedicated session on electricity infrastructure and markets, day one will also have two focused workshops – one looking at energy in transport and the other discussing the best practice approach to stakeholder engagement for energy infrastructure projects.
Day two will split into two main sessions. One session will be dedicated to oil and gas from exploration to market. There will be presentations from leading exploration and production companies as well as the European Commission and the Northern Ireland energy regulator.
The other session will explore how we can double renewable energy in Ireland. It will also look beyond wind and focus on the potential for ocean, bioenergy and solar energy in Ireland. The conference will close with a high-level examination of the future outlook for energy.
This year’s conference will have a panel of visiting international experts including: