Imported power costs €250,000 for 15 minutes
Ireland's natural resources could power the country, but the State ploughs around €250,000 every 15 minutes buying "polluting" power from abroad, an expert has said.
Dr Brian Motherway, from the International Energy Agency, told the Citizens' Assembly in Malahide yesterday that during the time it took him to give a talk on green energy, Ireland had paid a quarter-of-a-million euro just to power the country with foreign fossil fuel energy.
"We are very dependent on other people's expensive polluting energy and by the time I finish this talk, we will have sent a quarter-of-a-million euro abroad to buy other people's polluting energy.
"We are saying use our money to make your lives better," he said.
Dr Motherway was addressing the assembly during discussions on Ireland becoming a leader in tackling climate change.
He said Ireland is in possession of some of the "best natural resources," including wind and offshore waves. But he said due to lack of political will or pressure from the public, the State chooses to continue spending enormous amounts on buying foreign and environmentally damaging energy.
"We have the best resources you could hope for in the wind and sea and there's a lot of energy in the sea - if we can find a way to use it, it's clean and it's our own," he said.
Paul Kenny, from Tipperary Energy Action, said the Department of Environment should be held "accountable" on climate change.
The non-profit organisation has supported Tipperary in becoming green by retrofitting homes and installing advanced ventilation.
Heat and hot water is provided by renewable energy such as solar panels and heat pumps.
The average investment by homeowners is €18,000. But they make a financial saving of €1,000 to €1,500 per annum on bills, the group says.
"You make up to a 70pc reduction in bills. And when I see people saying 'my daughter doesn't need her asthma inhaler anymore because there's lovely air quality' it brings it home to you," Mr Kenny said.
On Saturday, the director general of the Environmental Protection Agency, Laura Burke, said there is a proven link between Ireland's growing economy and greenhouse gas emissions.
"In 2008 there was a very big decline (in emissions) followed by a flatline - it mirrors the economic recession," Ms Burke said.
"If the economy is going well, emissions are going up as well."
The assembly will meet again on November 4 and 5 to continue its discussions.