Letter in The Irish Times

Here’s a letter we had published in this morning’s Irish Times. It’s attracted some feedback already – but more feedback is always welcome!


Sir, – The expensive folly of Ireland’s energy policy in response to climate change is clearly outlined by a number of recent articles in this newspaper.

That Ireland’s performance on climate action in response to global warming has been ranked as the worst in the EU (News, December 10th) is unsurprising.

What is less well-known is that we are on track to meet our world-leading 40 per cent target of electricity from renewables, mainly wind energy, and intend to spend another €800 million on new wind turbines alone in the next 12 months (News, December 10th), thereby increasing the value of Ireland’s wind turbine fleet to a staggering €4.5 billion.

The apparent paradox of leading in use of wind turbines while trailing in reducing emissions is deepened when one considers the claim of Dr John Doherty (Letters, December 6th) that “wind farms may eventually emit more carbon than an equivalent coal-fired power station”.

The resolution of the paradox is quite simple, in that emissions reduction to the extent required cannot possibly be achieved by wind energy, even when supplemented by solar and hydro-energy. This physical reality is now abundantly clear to all objective observers and those whose view is unobstructed by ideology or commerce.

Those seeking an evidence-based solution to the problem of sourcing clean and affordable energy need look no further than our European neighbours for inspiration, where it is found that the cleanest, cheapest electricity is supplied by nations that have copious amounts of hydro power (Norway) or nuclear power (France) or both (Sweden).

To help reduce emissions effectively, we must overcome the EU-imposed fixation with the expensive sideshow that is renewable energy and focus instead on the true objective of genuine low-emissions energy. As our hydro-energy resource is already almost fully exploited, we must review our national predisposition to consider nuclear as being too large, expensive and unsafe. This view is quite at odds with the reality of modern nuclear that safely reduces emissions and costs while avoiding the need to erect wind turbines where valid objections exist.

We could also remove the statutory ban on nuclear fission, kick-starting such a review and indicating our serious intent to tackle climate change effectively.

This would not, however, bring us any closer to actually having a nuclear plant in Ireland, as that would still require widespread public and political support. – Yours, etc,

Author: Administrator

Denis Duff is a Chartered Engineer with a lifetime's experience in most aspects of electricity production - power station design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance and decommissioning - with experience also of power purchase contracts and management development. He has worked with Wind, Hydro, Oil, Gas and Peat in Ireland, Asia and Africa.

3 thoughts on “Letter in The Irish Times”

  1. Hi Denis,

    Congratulations! a most eloquent and erudite piece of prose. The irony you highlight in the inverse relationship between scale of wind/RE and rate of decarbonisation is a real blow to the solar plexus if you pardon the pun. Finding those “unobstructed by ideology or commerce” in positions of power and influence is the tricky bit. Let’s get to it.

    1. Thanks, Pat.

      Such people are out there – I’m having a very interesting chat with someone who may fit that bill on a different comment trail here.

      And our leaders generally lead in the direction the people are travelling, so it’s important to get the people travelling first!?

  2. After re-reading this letter I am even more inclined to think that small, local ‘conversations’ with Denis Duff or someone of similar understanding to discuss the alternatives with those beginning to doubt the Citizens’ Assembly method of choosing the governments’ energy policy: both SMRs and carbon capture and storage need to be considered and, of course, legalised in Ireland.

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