Tuesday 24 October 2017

Kevin Myers: Energy hypocrisy exposed by ignoring nuclear option

RTE 'News at One' excitedly announced the other day that work had started on the new electricity interconnector between Ireland and Wales. This, carolled the RTE reporter with all the cretinous piety that characterises any discussion on the subject in Ireland, will enable us to export renewable energy to the rest of Europe! Which is rather like saying the Marshall Aid was a way of Ireland coming to the assistance of California, or Live Aid was all about Ethiopia rescuing Ballsbridge.

The energy-flow through the interconnector will be almost wholly one-way, with us importing energy 86pc of the time and exporting it only 3pc, with the system otherwise idle. So how it is possible that RTE News is trumpeting a fictional future in which the purpose of the connector is for us to export "renewable" energy to Britain? Because it's true? No. Because it satisfies our almost insatiable need for a heart-warming, politically correct nationally binding myth.

By 2020, we should be capable of producing 6,000 megawatts of energy from wind. "Capable of" does not mean "will be". On average, wind power actually produces just 22pc of its capacity. Our theoretical wind capacity is currently just 1,500 megawatts, but is actually producing an average yield of only 330 megawatts. On a cold day -- classically, on a Wednesday in mid-January -- we actually need about 5,000 megawatts. But cold weather usually occurs with high pressure zones, which also means no wind. Therefore, when we most need wind is when we don't get it: so, extremely cold weather invariably requires fuel-based solutions. Moreover, when we've got wind, usually so has Britain, so the market there is sated: like farmers in Fingal in July trying to sell new King Edwards to their potato-producing neighbours.

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