Today’s energy transition is also influenced by technological, economic, and political factors

‘Transforming the energy sector to zero-carbon by 2050 is challenging‘ says Marie Donnelly, Chair of Renewable Energy ireland

14th January, 2020
Today’s energy transition is also influenced by technological, economic, and political factors

What's your name?

Marie Donnelly

What’s your current job?

CHAIR, Renewable Energy Ireland (REI)

How long have you held the position?

One year

Can you describe your daily work routine?

REI is an open partnership of sustainable energy associations working collectively to support the energy transition in Ireland. Our shared vision is that by 2050 Ireland will be energy independent through using indigenous, clean, carbon-free renewable energy supported by, and supporting, communities across our country.

Delivery of the relevant objectives of the Climate Action Plan in an efficient and cost effective manner is the current priority.

What is your professional background?

Having spent thirty years with the European Commission in Brussels, including as Director for Renewables, Energy Efficiency and Innovation, background can probably be described as a policy maker.

You are speaking at the forthcoming Power Summit in Croke Park. What is the focus of your talk?

"Achieving the energy transition

Over the past two centuries, societies have gone through energy transitions resulting from a combination of technological, economic, and political changes.

• The move from wood and peat to coal in the 19th century was due to the invention of the steam engine, and coal remained the primary fuel used globally until the middle of the 20th century.

• The next major transition occurred with the adoption and growth of electrification and the internal combustion engine in the early 20th century resulting in half of the world’s primary energy demand being met through oil and natural gas.

• Today’s energy transition is also influenced by technological, economic, and political factors, but it is the first being driven primarily by environmental factors based on changing social values - the drive to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Transforming the energy sector to zero-carbon by 2050 is challenging and ultimate success will depend on citizen participation, consumer response and behavioural change. Every energy transition has had its winners and its losers, both economically and in terms of social justice and community cohesion. The current transition is no different. So what will it mean for you?"

What do you see as the main challenges ahead for Ireland’s energy market within the next 5 years?

Allowing and supporting everyone in Ireland to participate in the energy transition – particularly by simplifying the message and setting achievable objectives for everyone.

Can you comment on Brexit and the possible outlook for Ireland’s energy market?

The final shape of Brexit is not yet known however it will be important that practical and pragmatic solutions are found for all trade, including energy trade.

Marie will be speaking at the 2020 Power Summit ON Thursday January 30 in Croke Park, Dublin.

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