State risks EU fines without solar supports says Mullins
A €122m a year subsidy currently paid to keep peat power stations operating should be used to help develop solar farms, renewable energy developer John Mullins said yesterday.
The State will have "considerable scope" to invest in solar power after the elimination of the peat Public Service Obligation (PSO) in 2018, Amarenco boss John Mullins said.
He made the comments after the minister responsible for the prevention of climate change, Denis Naughten, moved to dampen expectations of State support for solar investment on Wednesday.
Mr Mullins, who ran Bord Gáis before moving into renewables, said the Government is taking a risk by not upping its commitment to clean energy. "I hope there is a very good crystal ball in the Department that says we're going to hit our number by 2020.
"These are binding targets and the European Union will fine Ireland," he said.
"If he [Minister Naughten] wants to take a risk then basically continue with the one-trick pony approach - which is wind - and actually not look at bringing in other technologies," he told the Irish independent.
A quarter of all Irish electricity comes from renewable sources but that is 15 percentage points off the target for 2020.
Missing the goals could result in annual fines of up to €150m. Mr Mullins said it is unlikely Ireland will meet those targets at the current rate.
"We haven't a hope in hell of meeting it with peat, and with the transport situation and congestion and economic growth, we're heading in the opposite direction," he said. The peat PSO was introduced in 2001 to compensate electricity suppliers that purchase from peat producers. The levy is applied to all energy customers.
Mr Mullins believes the Department's alleged view that all of the renewable energy targets will be met by wind is unlikely to succeed due to successful objections to windfarms.
He said Amarenco has three plants ready to go if tariffs were granted by Government.
The call for solar tariffs comes amid growing concern in some communities about the lack of national guidelines.
In Kinsale, Co Cork, the Jagoes Mills Action Group (JMAG) has called on the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government to develop national planning guidelines for large-scale solar development.