Irish Political Party Plans Major Steps in Biofuels, Renewables

One of Ireland’s major political parties, Fine Gael, has unveiled a party-wide plan to transform Ireland’s approach to renewable energy that would have Ireland generating 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, making Ireland a world leader in sustainable energy technology.

The Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny T.D., unveiled his Party’s plans, the details of which were contained in the policy document “Energy for the Future,” which was prepared by a sub-committee of the Fine Gael Front Bench formed after the Party’s National Conference in Millstreet last November. The members of that group included Fergus O’Dowd (Environment & Local Gov’t.), Bernard Durkan (Communications & Natural Resources), Olivia Mitchell (Transport) and Denis Naughten (Agriculture & Food). “It’s time for Ireland to get serious about renewable energy,” said Kenny. “In the absence of any coordinated strategy from the Government in this vital area it is timely that Fine Gael is publishing ‘Energy for the Future.’ This is the type of approach needed to secure our longer-term energy requirements.” The plan contains a set of recommendations, costing Euro 488 million up to the year 2010, that will move Ireland definitively down the road of a more sustainable approach to national energy policy. Some of the proposals across the different sectoral areas include the following: — Removal of all excise duty on biofuels produced from renewable energy crops. — Targeted grants of between Euro 500 and Euro 3,500 to encourage householders to convert to renewable energy for home heating. — Reforming the VRT system through the establishment of energy efficient labeling for motor vehicles with lower and higher rates of VRT for fuel efficient and inefficient vehicles, respectively. — Provide seed capital for biofuel producer groups who would be chosen, through public competition, to operate a selected number of biofuel processing plants. — Create a market for biofuels by legislating that all motor fuels must include a blend of fuel from renewable sources. All petrol sold will include a 5% bioethanol mix and all diesels would contain a 2% biodiesel mix. — Require all public transport vehicles and public service vehicles to convert, where practical and feasible, to forms of biofuel. — Establish a Centre of Excellence for Alternative Energy charged with ensuring Ireland develops a world-class alternative energy sector. — Amend the National Spatial Strategy to include major renewable energy infrastructure projects. — Provide for a “community dividend” to act as compensation for those living close to important infrastructure that aids the entire country reach its Alternative Energy commitments. “These proposals are published in light of the major economic challenge that is posed by the energy crisis that faces us,” Kenny said. “Rising oil prices, global instability and a general acceptance that oil reserves will grow less and less dependable should act as a wake-up call for those who think we can continue as we are and not risk major economic problems in the decades that lie ahead.”
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