Renewable energy projects, such as offshore wind developments, should be fast-tracked, according to the Fianna Fáil candidate in the European Elections for the Midlands North West.

The Laois-Offaly TD, Barry Cowen, believes that this strategy would help to secure Ireland’s energy future and has pointed to the “vast, untapped resource” that exists of the west coast in relation to potential offshore wind developments.

Deputy Cowen had previously warned that Ireland could face an energy crisis if “urgent changes” are not made to the current planning system, particularly in relation to offshore wind projects because of a lack of infrastructure in place.

Earlier this week the Climate Change Advisory Council, in its latest annual report, warned that “much more urgent action” is required from government if Ireland is to meet its 2030 electricity capacity targets and stay within the electricity sectoral ceiling.

It also set out that Ireland’s renewable electricity generation remains significantly below the required annual increase necessary to meet growing demand and comply with the relevant emissions ceilings.

According to Deputy Cowen the “current system is not fit for purpose”.

Renewable energy

He said “The Climate Change Advisory Council’s annual report highlights many of the issues that are holding Ireland back from incredible opportunities in relation to renewables. They rightly address the need for planning reforms with Ireland well off the pace.

“We are achieving good things with a significant reduction in our emissions, but we must find a balance in order to move at greater speed and scale to overcome barriers and meet our electricity targets.

“Ireland has the capacity to become the powerhouse of Europe – generating up to €300 billion for our economy by 2050 – but, as things stand, we won’t avoid serious issues with our electricity system, let alone meet our own modest energy targets for 2030.”

Deputy Cowan has pledged that this is an issue he will focus on if he “is elected to Europe”.

“I want to see the introduction of a pan-European energy grid with Ireland at the centre as a global leader, with an urgent energy response unit dedicated to providing the planning and construction expertise required to deliver such projects.

“But first we need to take immediate action to overcome these hurdles at home and make this a reality,” he added.

Voters in Ireland will go to the polls to elect the next round of MEPs to the European Parliament on Friday June 7, 2024 and will elect 14 MEPs in 2024 – one more than in the 2019 elections. 

Ireland is divided into three constituencies for European elections.

  • Dublin elects four MEPS;
  • South elects five MEPS;
  • Midlands-North-West elects five MEPS.