Ireland told that winter blackouts are “much less likely now”
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan has played down fears that Ireland will experience considerable energy blackouts this winter.
Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 on Tuesday, Ryan noted that potential blackouts are "much less likely now" following successful repair work on two of the country's primary gas plants.
"We were in a very difficult place in the autumn because two of our main gas plants, our modern gas plants, were out of action for a year," he began.
"And a number of other plants were also out for maintenance, post-Covid there had been maintenance scheduling problems. So, we were in a very precarious situation.
"That's less, now, a few weeks later, I'm glad to say, because one of the main plants has come back repaired and the second is due back shortly in the next week or two.
"Therefore, it's not quite as tight."
Ryan's comments represent a notable u-turn following his declaration at the end of September that blackouts could not "absolutely" be ruled out.
Asked who would pay for related climate action expenditure, the Minister noted that the focus is on renewable energy and that placing the focus on the individual "doesn't work".
Reminded that a potential cost of €5 billion is at stake, Ryan was once again asked who, specifically, is going to pay for it.
"Who's going to pay if we destroy the whole planet?" he fired back.
Asked if Ireland might consider a move to nuclear power, Ryan said:
“I wouldn’t rule out nuclear power but I don’t see it as part of the future energy system here."
Ryan then questioned why Ireland would need to adopt such measures when the country has access to "massive renewable energy" in the form of wind.
"I think the Irish people are up for it," Ryan said in relation to the challenges facing the general public in relation to climate action.
Ryan was elaborating on proposed carbon budgets that he says will require "fundamental changes to Irish life."
The new budgets are part of a roadmap that was planned as part of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 that was signed into law in July of 2021.
The initial plan is for CO2 levels to fall at a rate of 4.8% on average for the next five years, and then to increase these cuts to 8.3% on average between 2026 and 2030.
This plan would hypothetically reduce Ireland's carbon emissions by more than half by 2030, with the aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050.