Could Ireland become Self Sufficient in Energy?
For many years, I’ve been intrigued by this question and I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, we could exist, survive and eventually thrive without imported fossil fuels. However, the disruption to our daily lives, and the burden on the exchequer would be too great to handle on our own; we would need help and a lot of it.
Help from whom? Europe! On the model whereby Ireland assists its off (habitable) shore islands with energy solutions, Europe could assist Ireland in its move to reduce GHG emissions to negligible levels, perhaps achieving a carbon neutral/positive environment.
Could we harness the power of ocean currents, namely the Gulf Stream, through mega-turbines – akin to old Mississippi Riverboat-style turbines, in reverse? Providing Ireland with a new inexhaustible source of clean energy? Naturally, studies would need to determine what implications, if any, such an initiative would have on the flow of Gulf Stream – we wouldn’t want to trigger a new Ice Age.
Ireland should look to further developing its other natural resources, particularly wind resources, as we are the 3rd windiest country in the world (although the Scots might beg to differ). Ireland should engage all levels of society on a basis of inform, participate, reward – across communities. This could be accomplished with non-intrusive roof-fixed new design wind-powered turbines and/or solar panels. This initiative must also empower society – encouraging everyone to take ownership – a collective endeavor in the national interest. If required, special feed-in tariffs for private homeowners would encourage buy-in, if only for the duration of a return of their individual capital investment.
Could we look future-proofing our infrastructure by incorporating electricity into new roads to enable electric vehicles (large and small) to remain charged through passive exchange? Thereby enabling smaller batteries, lighter cars/HGVs because of the less battery to vehicle weight ratio?
Europe could enable Ireland establish a Research and Development facility for new technologies – a centre of excellence – that could constantly stream (unpatented – in the interests in serving all) innovations.
In essence, not only does Ireland need internal ‘joined-up’ thinking to commence but as does Europe need to equally step up to the plate and overcome its collection of Nations vying for their own selfish needs. This would be new and unchartered territory for 1 single Sovereign State but with the financial and intellectual focus that Ireland would need to draw upon from Europe in order for any such a project any chance of succeeding without damaging Exchequer Returns. Ireland in return, could be seen as a Global template for future self-sufficiency and ultimately help save the World.