Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan has said the Government will have to look at similar and potentially larger measures in this year’s Budget to support those struggling to pay fuel bills because of rising energy costs.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Minister Ryan said these rising energy costs are as a result of a series of international factors.
These factors are increasing the price of gas, which in turns put up the price of electricity.
But Mr Ryan said that it is “likely to be a short-term phenomenon, and is not likely to be permanent”.
He said in this interim period, the Government will be looking at the Budget, as it did last year, when it increased the qualified child allowance, the living at home allowance and the fuel allowance to protect people against fuel poverty.
“We’re going to have to look at similar and potentially, other larger measures because for this winter, it is going to be a factor, not just here, but in every country,” the Minister said.
Eamon Ryan said that he is not expecting blackouts and power shortages this winter.
Two of the country’s biggest gas fired power plants experienced major outages over the last year but they are expected to come back within the next two months, which the Minister said “should see us through this Winter”.
He said there are a number of older power plants, such as Moneypoint and Tarbert, which the Government wants to convert to cleaner fuel systems and these have to be replaced with new plants.
In subsequent winters, the Government will have “to engage in auctions that bring on that alternative balancing power,” he added.
He said the extra generating capacity will be needed for winter 2022 and we need another additional plant to do this.
The Government has also committed to ringfencing part of the revenue that it raises in carbon tax, to protect those in fuel poverty, he added.
Ryan confident that country can balancing the national energy grid
The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications also said today that as Ireland faces up to the challenges of switching away from fossil fuels, he is “absolutely confident” it can tap into its native renewable power sources while at the same time balancing the national energy grid.
Eamon Ryan said that the use of Ireland’s renewable power sources would provide a cleaner, more efficient and more competitive power supply.
Minister Ryan said that it “will be tight to do it over the next two to three years” in line with climate target deadlines but that he remains “absolutely convinced we have the ability to do that and provide the power the new industrial plants may need”.
In reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, Minister Ryan said there will be the continued use of gas as a flexible, back-up supply over the next two to three decades to bridge the gap.
He said the Government does not want to build more fossil fuel plants, including a LNG plant on the River Shannon, as it has a sufficient supply of gas available from elsewhere and it also capacity to store gas.
He said that Ireland wants to lead the way and “cannot ignore climate change” and risk investing in more fossil fuel infrastructure that risks becoming “a stranded asset”.
Mr Ryan said the ESB are looking at switching to renewable energy sources and powering hydro power at its Moneypoint plant in Co Clare.
He said that dependence on distance sources for power systems is not the place to be for any country, so the best thing to do is to develop our own power supplies.