Development group taking action to meet Ireland's 2020 targets

The Irish government has reconvened the Renewable Energy Development Group to help it meet its ambitious 2020 targets. Natural resources minister Eamon Ryan announced the move at the Irish Wind Energy Association autumn conference at the end of September. "Re-convening this group, under the aegis of my department will provide a cross-government, pan-agency and industry response to renewable energy in Ireland," says Ryan. "This new re-constituted group will be central to reaching the target of 33% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020." As well as representation from Ryan's own ministry, the group includes representatives from the trade and employment ministry, Sustainable Energy Ireland, the energy regulatory office, the state electricity company ESB, the Economic and Social Research Institute, universities and industry. The group is to provide "an action-based report" within six months, says Ryan. Originally established in May 2004, the group has not met since early 2006. It was first set up to consider policies to boost renewables to meet the 2010 target of a 15% share of Ireland's electricity. As a result of the group's recommendations, the government announced in 2005 a new support mechanism of capped-price contracts negotiated between renewable generators and retailers, dubbed a "renewable energy feed-in tariff." The support mechanism has at last received European Commission approval under rules for granting state aid to industry -- over two years since the government applied, reported Ryan. The delay has been unacceptable, said the minister. "On the one hand, the European Union is setting impressive targets for renewable energy and on the other hand holding back national governments working to achieve these targets," he says. "We cannot continue with these types of delays and I will be working with the Commission and my European colleagues to ensure that any future support can get much quicker clearance."

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