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12/06/2024

Govt Approves Measures To Accelerate Climate Transition

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The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, has gained government approval for two memos to accelerate the development of renewable energy and climate infrastructure.

The first memo is the Accelerating Renewable Electricity (ARE) Taskforce Implementation Plan, detailing nearly 70 actions across grid, planning, and markets, crucial for achieving the Climate Action Plan's target of 80% renewable electricity by 2030. Many of these actions are already in progress.

The Plan also addresses barriers to early delivery, in particular in the area of planning and permitting and the urgent need to align local plans with national climate and renewable electricity targets as well as the planning and delivery of the electricity network. The faster the delivery of wind and solar energy and supporting infrastructure, the better it will be for householders, competitiveness and emissions.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) analysis indicates that early deployment of onshore renewable electricity generation this decade could reduce wholesale electricity prices by up to 10%, resulting in lower bills for households and businesses.

Minister Ryan said: "We have already done an enormous amount of work to strengthen our planning, grid and markets for renewable electricity. The work that will continue over the next three to four years will be vital in ensuring Ireland meets our 2030 renewable electricity and carbon emission targets. Speedy delivery of onshore renewables is critical to Ireland’s energy security and reducing energy costs to homes and businesses. We need to start putting in place the policies and measures now that will allow for the fast-tracked and increased deployment of onshore renewable electricity generation projects and accelerated delivery and development of the onshore electricity grid and electricity storage facilities."

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Key measures identified to meet Ireland's renewable electricity and carbon emission abatement targets include:

•A programme to accelerate and monitor the delivery of the electricity grid to support the renewable electricity targets

•Ensuring that planning and permitting systems support the acceleration of renewable energy generation through statutory planning policy and relevant EU legislation

•Supporting investment in onshore renewables through competitive auctions and other routes to market

•Delivering an electricity storage policy framework and a streamlined electricity generation grid connection policy

•Developing a sustainable community energy sector and providing businesses and farms with opportunities to generate their own clean energy

Also at Cabinet, the Government approved the General Scheme for the Environmental Protection (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2024.

The main goal of the Bill is to streamline the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licensing system by establishing clear timeframes for licensing decisions and offering more options for efficiently regulating lower-risk activities and minor license changes. It also ensures that suitable and proportionate environmental protections are firmly maintained.

The decision aims to provide more certainty around the timeframe for decisions on applications for EPA licences for the energy, food, pharma, chemicals, waste and other industrial sectors and will complement the statutory timelines being introduced under the Planning and Development Bill 2023.

The Bill aims to promote sustainable development and economic activity by shortening and providing certainty around the time required to secure decisions on industrial and waste license applications. This will support investment decisions needed to develop infrastructure for a circular economy, ensure energy security and improve environmental standards in industrial installations.

Certain industrial activities produce emissions of various substances into the air, water and land. They also generate waste and use resources such as energy and water. The EPA is responsible for issuing licences to prevent and control pollution from industrial and waste activities.

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