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Ireland will miss renewable energy goals unless wind and solar projects get timely planning permission, conference told

Ireland will not achieve its renewable energy goals unless the timetable for adding wind and solar projects to the grid is considerably shortened, a conference has been told.

Renewable Energy Ireland chair Dr Tanya Harrington told the Engineers Ireland annual conference in Dublin on Wednesday that it takes two years for an environmental assessment on a renewable energy project to be carried out. Such a project spends a further year to four years waiting for planning permission to be granted at local or national level.

That is followed by a grid connection application (ECP) which typically takes several years to achieve. The project developers then need to sell the electricity to the grid.

Dr Harrington warned that Ireland will not meet its renewable energy targets unless a “fit for purpose” planning system is introduced. There is also a need for other agencies involved in approving such projects to make decisions quicker.


Every project that is needed to meet Ireland’s renewable energy demands is in the pipeline at present, she stated, “but if it takes this long, the targets will not be met. The scale of ambition and the likelihood of delivery are not aligned”.

Ireland will have to double the amount of onshore wind energy and increase solar technology tenfold to meet its targets by 2030.

“The lack of resources and the lack of timely decision making is really a challenge for us,” she said.

The Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan previously identified planning as a major impediment to the State meeting its renewable energy targets.

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The new Planning and Development Bill 2023 is designed to fast track major infrastructural development projects such as wind and solar energy plans.

He told the Joint Committee On Environment and Climate Action last March that delays at the planning level were affecting critical decisions relevant to the future.

“It is the biggest problem in my mind in terms of meeting our climate targets, delivering housing, water and other infrastructure we need for our future,” he told the committee.”