Dr Eddie O’Connor, CEO of Mainstream Renewable Power, recently gave a thought-provoking and wide-ranging speech to a meeting of the Institute of International and European Affairs. Here for PES, he reiterates some of the major concerns and prophecies of that speech.
To begin with here, I take it as a given that we humans have to go on containing the rise in global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius by 2050 or risk triggering irreversible and catastrophic damage to our planet.
I also take it as an absolute imperative that by 2050 we will have to reduce our Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) by 80% at a time when the generation of electricity is predicted to rise by at least 100%. The first figure, of an 80% GHG reduction comes from the UN International Panel on Climate Change, while the second figure comes from the International Energy Agency, which is part of the OECD.
That 80% reduction in GHG emissions, while power generation is being doubled is no little challenge, which can realistically only be met if we replace hydro-carbons with Renewable Energy. Pursuing this logic, the only form of Renewable Energy which is capable of commercial deployment on the scale and at the speed we need, is wind. More specifically, the only form of Renewable Energy that will do the job is offshore wind and for this to happen we need that much trumpeted Supergrid.
So what exactly is this Supergrid, which I claim is so central to the future of Europe’s successful energy generation policy? Basically this is an electricity transmission system, mainly based on direct current, designed to facilitate large-scale sustainable power generation in remote areas for transmission to centres of centres of consumption, one of whose fundamental attributes will be the enhancement of the market in electricity.
Let me begin then, by discussing wind itself. It is infinitely renewable, it is clean and it is above all, a free source of fuel. In short it meets all of the criteria set by Irish and European policy makers as the solution for the twin challenges of climate change and energy security.