Ireland’s "broken" permitting system is holding back renewable energy development and risks the country missing its 2030 climate and clean energy targets, according to new analysis.
The Irish government aims to have 8.2GW of operational onshore wind capacity by the end of the decade and to source 70% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
However, the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) believes that Ireland will only reach 5.5GW of onshore wind capacity by 2030 – with slow permitting procedures largely to blame for this failure.
The industry body called for several changes to be made to Ireland’s permitting processes:
- Permitting decisions need to be made faster – appeals currently take 59 weeks instead of 18, the limit set by An Bord Pleanála, the body in charge of permitting;
- Developers should be able to apply for construction permission for the wind farm’s cable connection at the same time as they apply for permission for the project itself;
- Wind energy planning guidelines should be based on rigorous scientific evidence and strike the right balance between the need to develop new wind farms and the concerns of those opposed to renewable energy;
- And pre-planning consultation for strategic infrastructure development (SID) applications should be introduced, and the process for deciding on applications for SID status should be streamlined.
IWEA also called for Ireland’s transmission system to be strengthened.
Onshore wind supplied nearly 37% of Ireland’s electricity in the first six months of the year and the country should meet its 2020 target of 40% renewable electricity, the IWEA stated.
However, Ireland meeting its 2030 target of 70% looks unlikely, the industry body warned.
David Connolly, the IWEA’s chief executive, lamented Irelands’ “broken permitting system”, and said: “We have the pipeline to build enough wind farms to provide 70% of our electricity.
“We know we have the resources, the skills and the expertise to deliver the renewable energy Ireland needs at a good price for the consumer.
“But Ireland’s broken planning [permitting] system is not fit for purpose. This research clearly shows it is now one of the biggest barriers to decarbonising Ireland’s electricity supply. To deliver the Climate Action Plan we need our planning system to be reformed and adequately resourced.”
Ireland had 4,245MW of operational onshore wind capacity as of 1 September, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly. It added 115MW of new capacity in the first eight months of the year.
The country awarded contracts to nearly 480MW of new onshore wind farms in its first clean energy tender, which was held earlier this year.