Winter is coming – and both consumers and businesses are understandably very worried.
hroughout the year, we have seen price increase after price increase from conventional energy companies. Every provider in the Irish market, bar one, has already announced double-digit hikes in electricity and gas prices this year.
And the worst is yet to come. Brokers are warning of ‘carnage’ in the market, with price hikes of up to 50pc on the way for commercial customers. And all this is before we consider the very real possibility of energy blackouts and the economic toll this could take on businesses and consumers alike.
We have an environmentally and financially unfriendly model that is on its last legs.
How did we get to this?
For starters, there is far too much pressure on our outdated national grid. Covid delayed much-needed power station maintenance in Ireland, while two gas powered generation facilities in Cork and Dublin (which comprised 15pc of our energy generation) are temporarily closed. Added to that, the generation of renewable energy is so low as to be almost farcical – and all the while, customer demand is soaring.
We are simply not helping ourselves. Take the grid, for example. The bureaucratic red tape around the sale of energy to the grid is such that many customers have up to this point been unable to export unwanted solar energy to the grid, even if they are willing to give it away for free.
That is a savage indictment on a system that should be embracing energy generation of any kind – particularly low-cost, environmentally friendly energy like solar.
For some time, the Government has been talking about introducing a feed-in tariff (through which incentives are offered to those willing to invest in renewable energy and sell it back to the grid). Again, this promising plan has been put on the back-burner by politicians who are unwilling or unable to see the bigger picture.
Furthermore, we have had several Government-backed renewable energy supply auctions whereby renewable providers (primarily solar operators) bid for the right to sell renewable energy to the grid on long-term supply agreements – but only one of the winning bids is actually operational today and providing the energy they agreed to supply.
Planning permission is also a huge headache in the market. It adds cost and impacts hugely on the timely delivery of projects. In the UK, for example, a solar installation of up to 1MW (enough to power about 200 homes) can be done without planning permission.
We have heard a lot of talk about how multinationals can save the …….