'Blaming individuals doesn't work' - Eamon Ryan wants system-wide change in energy sector
Green Party leader and Climate Minister, Eamon Ryan, wants to see a system-wide change in Ireland's energy sector.
Minister Ryan discussed his views this morning on Today with Claire Byrne, where he said that although the introduction of the carbon tax had been "controversial", big changes are needed to develop renewable electricity.
Speaking on the issue, he said, "If we put this all on the consumer - 'What are you doing? What are your decisions?' - that focus on blaming the individual, the emphasis on the individual, doesn't work. It is system change [that's needed]."
Presenter Claire Byrne asked the minister who would pay for the changes, to which he said, "Who will pay if we destroy the whole planet? We need to go back to basics. Who is going to manage when there's wholesale migration? When there's drought and the endless costs in that? We have an opportunity here for system change we can make towards a better system."
He said, "Our job is to engage in conversation with the Irish people to say, 'Here are the sort of changes, we think it's for the better', and I think we're way up for making the leap."
When asked if nuclear power could play a part in Ireland's future, he said, "I've always said I wouldn't rule it out, [but] I don't see it as part of the energy system here. It's incredibly expensive. Why would we go to nuclear when we have this [wind] supply? It's not flexible, it's not as reliable, particularly a very big plant. And any risk whatsoever [they] have to shut them off straight away."
He continued: "I've never had a single person come to me [to say] they want to invest in nuclear."
Minister Ryan came under fire in recent weeks because of the possibility of energy blackouts over the winter months. This fear was due to the closure of gas plants over the past year as well as the temporary closure of other fossil fuel plants for maintenance and repair.
He called the situation "very precarious" but that it was "less [so] now".
He said, "I'm glad to say one of the main plants is back repaired, the second in the next week or two so it's not quite as tight. We still have a plan to deliver about two gigawatts of additional gas, and bring in something like five gigawatts of offshore wind in the same period. To use less gas but in a clever way."
He concluded: "This project of switching to renewables, that's the clever way to go."
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