The Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte T.D has stressed that the only long term solution to the problems of fuel poverty lie in the quality of housing. We have far too many poor quality, draughty homes in Ireland. The priority for Government is to improve the thermal efficiency of as many of those homes as possible.
The Minister was speaking at the 100th Board meeting of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. Promoting energy efficiency and managing such schemes on behalf of the Government is a key priority of the Authority.
The Minister noted the significant achievements of SEAI to date and in particular the 140,000 Home energy retrofits supported through Better Energy Homes, the 90,000 vulnerable fuel poor homes upgraded and the 33,000 renewable heating systems grant aided in homes. He also welcomed that energy efficiency has resulted in an estimated €300m energy savings achieved in business over the period.
In the eleven years since SEAI’s establishment the renewable energy sector in Ireland has grown in significance and the issues of renewable energy and energy efficiency have moved from a fringe interest to the centre of Irish and European energy policy. The sectors now employ an estimated 10,000 persons and there are over 3,500 public and private sector organisations engaged in SEAI programmes.
At the meeting Minister Rabbitte stressed to the SEAI Board the importance of maintaining focus on fulfilling its legislative mandate to promote the sustainable development and use of energy and to provide the requisite assistance and advice to Government, energy suppliers and users alike. The Minister stated that “Ireland has very challenging energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change targets and the board must build on the achievements already secured in this regard. The SEAI must also maintain a focus on advising Government and implementing Government policies so that Ireland can achieve the strategic goals of improved energy security and competitiveness and through meeting the challenging EU renewable and energy efficiency targets and positioning Ireland so that we can achieve a truly low-carbon, competitive green economy.”