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					Alternative Energy in Ireland

The Irish are currently pursuing energy independence and the further
development of their robust economy through the implementation of
research and development into alternative energy sources. At the time of
this writing, nearly 90% of Ireland's energy needs are met through
importation—the highest level of foreign product dependence in the
nation's entire history. This is a very precarious situation to be in,
and the need for developing alternative energy sources in Ireland is
sharply perceived. Ireland also seeks to conserve and rejuvenate its
naturally beautiful environment and to clean up its atmosphere through
the implementation of alternative energy supplies. The European Union has
mandated a reduction in sulphuric and nitric oxide emissions for all
member nations. Green energy is needed to meet these objectives.
Hydroelectric power has been utilized in Ireland in some areas since the
1930s and has been very effective; however, more of it needs to be
installed. Ireland also needs to harness the wave power of the Atlantic
Ocean, which on its west coast is a potential energy supply that the
nation has in great store.

Ireland actually has the potential to become an energy exporter, rather
than a nation so heavily dependent on energy importation. This energy
potential resides in Ireland's substantial wind, ocean wave, and biomass-
producing alternative energy potentials. Ireland could become a supplier
of ocean wave-produced electricity and biomass-fueled energy to
continental Europe and, as they say, “make a killing”. At the present
time, Ireland is most closely focused on reaching the point where it can
produce 15% of the nation's electricity through wind farms, which the
government has set as a national objective to be reached by 2010. But
universities, research institutes, and government personnel in Ireland
have been saying that the development of ocean wave energy technology
would be a true driving force for the nation's economy and one which
would greatly help to make Ireland energy independent. A test site for
developing wave ocean energy has been established in Ireland, less than
two miles off the coast of An Spideal in County Galway Bay. This
experimental ocean wave harnessing site is known as “Wavebob”. The most
energetic waves in the world are located off the West coast of Ireland,
says Ireland's Marine Institute CEO Dr. Peter Heffernan. The technology
to harness the power of the ocean is only just emerging and Ireland has
the chance to become a market leader in this sector. David Taylor, CEO of
the Sustainable Energy Initiative,or SEI, tells us that SEI is committed
to innovation in the renewable energy sector. Wave energy is a promising
new renewable energy resource which could one day make a significant
contribution to Ireland's electricity generation mix thereby further
reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

Padraig Walshe, the president of the Irish Farmers Association, tells us
that with the closure of the sugar beet industry, an increasing amount of
Irish land resources will become available for alternative uses,
including bioenergy production. Today, renewable energy sources meet only
2% of Ireland’s total energy consumption. From a farming perspective,
growing energy crops will only have a viable future if they provide an
economic return on investment and labour, and if the prospect of this
return is secure into the future. Currently the return from energy crops
is marginal and is hampering the development of the industry. Biomass
energies need to be further researched by Ireland.

				
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