An Irish MEP is calling for the planning process for renewable energy products to be fast-tracked to tackle the issue of energy security.

Seán Kelly, MEP for the Ireland South constituency, was speaking ahead of a debate on energy security in the European Parliament today (Wednesday, October 6).

“Rising energy prices and energy security is a growing concern across Europe. This is of critical importance for Ireland, likely facing a 30% increase in demand in the next decade,” Kelly said.

“There is genuine concern for the impact on our citizens and businesses across Europe. Today in the parliament we will look at possible European solutions with the European Council and the European Commission.

“We have a responsibility to every citizen to work in their best interests, that means switching to clean energy but also keeping the lights on with transitional fuels in the meantime. How member states handle the energy transition will determine both our economic future and the social cohesion of the entire EU,” the Fine Gael TD stressed.

He warned that a situation in which “the most vulnerable” are left with rising energy costs and the economy is “strangled” as we move towards green energy is possible, urging that member states pay particular attention to those in danger of energy poverty.

“In Ireland, permitting requirements for renewable energy projects are major obstacles. I call on the government to streamline renewable projects procedures, particularly for offshore wind, so that we can move to an energy system in line with our climate goals.”

“The EU’s renewable energy directive includes several provisions that simplify permitting processes but member states must do more to fast-track positive energy projects,” Kelly highlighted.

The MEP also argued that renewable energy targets will not be met without significant investment in the grid infrastructure around the county, particularly in west Cork, Kerry and Clare.

“If we are to fully reap the benefits of the renewable energy potential in these regions, improved grid interconnections and storage solutions are necessary,” Kelly said.

“By their very nature, wind and solar energy are intermittent. Therefore, we must plan to replace our fossil-fuel based back-up system with battery storage and demand response as well as green hydrogen; but we also cannot hide from the fact that there is still a role to play for transitional fuels until then.

“Retrofitting gas generation plants to run on hydrogen and ensuring that any new plants are designed to make conversion easy will be key in this transition. Ireland needs a hydrogen strategy to properly plan for this,” he argued.