April 10, 2024
Unlocking surplus wind energy potential would be a game-changer in tackling high energy costs and delivering real energy justice – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment and Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has called on the government to explore the potential of surplus wind energy that would otherwise be wasted to provide much needed relief to hard-pressed households who continue to struggle with Ireland’s exorbitantly high energy prices.

Speaking after meeting today with Energy Cloud and Clúid Housing, the Meath East TD said:

“Last week alone, the estimated value of surplus wind energy was over €37 million. This means that there was enough energy in Ireland to heat over 31 million hot water tanks.

“Even more strikingly, over 5000 GWh of zero carbon renewable wind energy has been dispatched down since 2018, and in the first 10 months of 2023, 724 GWh of wind energy went to waste. This has a retail value of over eye-watering quarter of a billion euros, equivalent to heating over 240 million tanks of hot water.

“Ireland has some of the highest energy prices in Europe, with electricity prices here a whopping two thirds higher than the EU average. Similarly, gas bills stand at over a quarter the EU average. This means that the typical Irish household is paying €700 more than our European friends and neighbours.

“Is it any surprise that just under a quarter of a million households in Ireland are in arrears with their electricity bills, and more than one in five gas customers are in arrears, with this having risen by more than 10 percent last year?

“Devastatingly, over 550,000 households are living in energy poverty. Let that sink in a moment – over 1.2 million people cannot afford to heat their homes. For a country with a supposedly ‘booming economy’, this is absolutely outrageous.

“The government needs to urgently and decisively get to grips with this situation. Their failure to act has been at the heart of this crisis – a crisis which continues to cripple many ordinary workers, families and small businesses.

“The redistribution of surplus energy that would otherwise go to waste is one potential policy lever that could be used to provide much needed relief. It has the potential to be a ‘win-win’ – a win for the climate and sustainability, and a win for households who are shouldering an extremely heavy burden when it comes to the cost of powering their homes.

”As it stands, up to 70,000 homes could benefit from Energy Cloud’s model. The free electricity that is effectively dumped at night-time when electricity demand falls off could be used to bring down household energy bills and furthermore to alleviate fuel poverty.

“The model has already been adopted in some Clúid Housing homes, with many of the residents enthusiastically articulating the benefits of the programme.

“It is incumbent upon the government to ensure all the right people and organisations get together to hash out the feasibility of scaling this model. With millions of euro worth of energy being wasted every year while the cost-of-living crisis continues to rage, we do not have the time to waste.

“In Sinn Féin we believe in a just transition for everyone, to ensure our vast natural resources are turned into national wealth for all. This is just one possible pathway to do just that – to deliver real energy justice and furthermore to achieve our 2030 targets.”

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