1 May 2008 Edition
The Mitchel McLaughlin Column
Time to think renewable energyThe two oil giants Shell and BP have once more announced huge profits totalling billions of pounds as the price of home heating oil and the cost to motorists’ skyrockets. The consumer is bearing the brunt of this while the oil companies and the governments make windfall profits and tax revenue.
It is time that a serious look is taken at renewable energy developments. Delivery of renewable energy sources needs to be substantially increased if we are to free ourselves from the burden of greed being displayed by multi-national oil conglomerates. In the meantime, considering the obscene profits being made by oil giants, is it any wonder that there is a clamour for consideration of capping retail prices for oil and fuel. Targets need to be set for the progressive provision of energy from renewable sources to replace fossil fuels. The targets will send a clear signal about the scale of our renewable energy ambitions and commitment.
But in setting targets we need to clearly define environmental and planning guidance in advance. I believe that Ireland as an island with access to an abundance of renewable energy sources from wind, wave and tidal power could become a net exporter of energy.
Previous Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led coalition governments have squandered the economic potential of the gas and oil reserves, handing huge profits to multi-national giants at the expense of the Irish taxpayers. In fact, Stat Oil delivered more benefit to the Norwegian people from Irish gas reserves than successive Irish governments did to the Irish people.
As part of the planning for delivery of renewable energy sources we need to ensure that no government can ever again bequeath our natural resources to foreign oil conglomerates – the people of Ireland must be the beneficiaries
Government incentives should be made available for the development of prototype designs to harness the power of the Atlantic to supply electricity to Irish homes and business. It is estimated that marine energy could eventually supply up to 10 per cent of the world’s electricity needs. Ireland with its wave and wind power resources has massive potential to be a major generator and exporter of renewable energy.
In order to maintain long-term sustainability of energy supply and a prosperous, healthy and safe environment we must embrace the need to move away from the use of fossil fuels. We are building a society not only for ourselves, but also for our children and our children’s children. What this means is that we must ensure that all of our actions take account of their economic, social and environmental consequences.