June 7, 2023
Sinn Féin launch proposals to expand public, community and democratic ownership of renewables – Darren O’Rourke TD, Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin’s Darren O’Rourke TD and Senator Lynn Boylan have today published proposals to transform our indigenous renewable resources into national wealth for all. 

Spokesperson on Environment and Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, said: 

“Sinn Féin is committed to ensuring that the transition to a carbon neutral society expands public, community and democratic ownership of our natural resources and of the economy more widely. This starts with our energy system, rewiring it to serve the common good, delivering more just and equitable outcomes that endure.

“Many of the economic, social and environmental crises Ireland faces can be traced to the ownership of natural resources and wealth, from the rigging of the housing system by investment funds to the concentration of finite energy reserves in the hands of a few autocratic states and profit-centred corporations. 

“Without adequate ownership of our natural resources, we have limited control over how and for what purpose our national assets are used. This has often had disastrous outcomes for ordinary workers and families. Time and time again we have seen how the maximisation of profit trumps the common good. This is exemplified by the present energy crisis.

“While the journey to net zero brings about real challenges, it also creates immense opportunity. With our vast natural resources, Ireland has the potential to become a world leader in renewable energy production and export, particularly in wind energy. 

“Not only would this reinforce the state’s security of energy supply, it also has the potential to generate significant long-term revenue. In Sinn Féin, we believe it is essential that the dividends generated from our indigenous renewable power are shared equitably rather than concentrated in the hands of the few.

“In our ‘Transforming Renewables Resources into National Wealth for All’ document we have presented a number of proposals to help achieve this. In the first instance, we would address the government’s failure to harness the cost benefits of renewables by establishing a new task force to address the relatively high cost of producing renewables here. 

“Importantly, we would expand public ownership of renewables via state bodies such as ESB, Bord na Móna and Coillte by revising their existing financial and governance mechanisms, and empowering them to maximise their role in the transition to a decarbonised energy system.

“In terms of expanding local and community ownership of renewables, we would target at least 10% of our new renewable energy generation to be community owned by 2030. This is in addition to the current Government’s renewables commitment. To initiate the scale-up, in our 2023 Alternative Budget we allocated an additional €2 million in capital funding to support community owned renewable energy projects, doubling the funding provided in 2022.

“At the domestic level, Sinn Féin would scale and speed up the roll out of household renewable energy. We would increase funding and take a different approach to the current Government, one which is progressive and inclusive, ensuring that supports provided are distributed more equitably. 

“In our Alternative Budget 2023, we proposed to increase support for solar PV by an additional €10.5m, a 75% increase from 2022. This would fund 7,000 more households than previously possible. 

“In addition, we would completely restructure the funding of solar PVs by introducing tiered supports based on household income, thereby ensuring that state supports are proportionately allocated on the basis of need. This would mean that those least able to afford solar panels and most at risk of energy poverty are given the greatest levels of support.”

Spokesperson on Climate Justice, Senator Lynn Boylan, said: 

“The failure of successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil-led governments to sufficiently invest in clean, indigenous energy has left us dependent on imported fossil fuels and excessively exposed to the negative impacts of global market shocks. 

“Likewise, excessive reliance on the private sector fails to ensure that the benefits of decarbonisation will be adequately translated into national wealth and long-term benefits for Irish society. Our experience of energy market liberalisation is testament to this.

“Significant state investment is required to achieve our 2030 targets in renewable energy production. Unlike the current government, Sinn Féin believes that public investment should yield public dividends that can then be utilised for public good.

“Therefore, Sinn Féin would expand public, local, community and domestic ownership of renewable energy, meeting our climate targets while simultaneously delivering wider social and economic benefits for workers and communities. These ownership models better retain, recirculate, and reinvest the wealth generated within the state and local communities rather than syphon off profits abroad or to corporate shareholders.” 

Sinn Féin’s ‘Transforming Renewables Resources into National Wealth for All’ proposals can be read here.

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