This week I have not been feeling very well. It is due to one of the treatments I am receiving, but hey, as it helps bolster my defence against Covid and any other viruses floating around, I am all for it. When I’m under the weather, problems out there like global warming seem so totally overwhelming, but thinking about it can trigger a descent into a deep sense of gloom. Throw in the fear that the Chinese might be crazy enough to invade Taiwan and you have the stuff of nightmares. Still I have a great belief in the human spirit, and most of all human ingenuity. This week of all things it was the International Energy Agency that pulled me out of my gloom. Fatih Birol the Director of the IFA stated “ The message is clear: a new global energy economy is coming, which is cheaper, cleaner, safer, more resilient and much fairer across countries”. Then in a further statement on the eve of the Cop26 Conference in Glasgow he stated “ I would like to see world leaders come together and give the message to investors: We are united in building a clean energy future and we are giving you an unmistakeable signal that if you continue to invest in dirty energy you are going to lose money big-time”. This is revolutionary stuff, the end of the fossil fuel age is in sight. One of the projects that really grabbed my attention was Xlinks Morocco- UK Power covering an area of 1,500 sq km. Using wind and solar energy it will be connected exclusively to the UK via 3,800 km HVDC sub-sea cables. This will provide low cost clean power to over 7 million British homes. All of this with zero emissions. You have to hand it to the Brits. This is the kind of big scale investment that will have positive benefits on so many levels and, hopefully, will generate good clean jobs way into the future.
How you may ask can we compete with that ? Ireland has one potential source of energy in abundance, wave-power. It has been calculated that we have the potential to generate enough electricity to meet twice our peak demand. That means we could have the capacity to export energy to Europe. Data Centres not a problem, if it is right for our economy, as many as you like. This will require a government of real courage and vision. Realistically it would necessitate the majority of politicians to buy into the project. If such a harnessing of power with the full backing of a sovereign nation were to take place, I am sure it could attract private capital. Irish Wave Bonds could be the thing of the future.
We are at the dawn of a new age, fossil fuels will gradually be phased out. What is essential at this crossroads is that our political class show the same kind of leadership that men like Sean Lemass displayed when modernising and opening up the Irish economy. We should see the end of fossil fuels as a glorious opportunity for Ireland to enthusiastically foster the new industries and technologies that will evolve out of a truly green ecosystem. Away with the puritanism of net zero and instead waves of prosperity.