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In the depths of the Anglo-Irish Economic war of the 1930s the Irish were told to burn everything British but their coal. Thankfully Irish relations with the British have vastly improved but amidst the economic depression was buried a dream for the future of Irish energy that is ripe for renewal. In 1929 the fledging State brimmed with optimism when it opened its first national electric scheme in the hope that Ireland would become a modern fully electrified self-sufficient nation. The hydroelectric scheme at Ardnacrusha still operates but, as we modernised, we lost sight of the goal of energy self sufficiency. Today Ireland is a thoroughly modern nation, but one which imports 85% of our energy. This need not be the case. According to the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) Ireland has the capacity to meet its own energy demands by harnessing clean local and renewable wind energy. Their new campaign “The Power to Power Ourselves” promotes public awareness of Ireland’s potential to secure our own clean energy future free from foreign imports.
“The campaign, which reinforces our commitment to the sustainable development of wind energy in Ireland, marks an important milestone for the wind industry, and we are looking to really engage people on the topic of clean Irish energy to prompt a broader conversation about Ireland’s own energy future.” – Kenneth Matthews CEO IWEA
The Irish incessantly moan about the wind and the rain but most of us rarely consider the weather as our greatest natural resource. Divesting our energy needs from foreign fossil fuels not only protects a precious commodity from a volatile market but achieves the goal of self-sufficiency we sought as a youthful independent nation in the 1920s and 30s. Wind energy reduces carbon emissions dramatically and is one of the most painless ways for Ireland to help secure a beautiful greener future for our children and grandchildren.
The Power to Power Ourselves campaign video shows off powerful images of the Emerald Isle set to the words of John F Kennedy when he spoke to the Irish Dáil in 1963. JFK was famous for his inspirational speeches but amazingly his words remain relevant.
“You have modernized your economy, harnessed your rivers, diversified your industry, liberalized your trade, electrified your farms, accelerated your rate of growth, and improved the living standards of your people.” -JFK
Ireland has become the modern nation dreamed of in the 1930s and gone beyond anything that could have been imagined in 1963. Our agricultural exports are known worldwide for their high quality, our welcoming environment attracts the largest technology and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Our tourism is booming and we are bouncing back from the 2008 recession. We are known for our generosity through charity and aid to lesser developed countries. With this success comes responsibility and this includes an environmental responsibility to reduce carbon emissions not only for our own future, but for that of the entire planet. In the spirit of our generosity let us ensure that poorer countries do not suffer from climate adversity because of our energy consumption of imported fossil fuels, especially when it is beneficial for us to switch to clean wind energy.
“This is an extraordinary country. George Bernard Shaw, speaking as an Irishman, summed up an approach to life: Other people, he said “see things and say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were and I say: ‘Why not?’ It is that quality of the Irish – that remarkable combination of hope, confidence and imagination- that is needed more than ever today. The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics, whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” – JFK
Why not become leaders and use our influence to convince others to do the same. JFK spoke of the obligations of small countries like Ireland and told the Dáil “Ireland’s hour has come. You have something to give to the world – and that is a future of peace with freedom.” JFK was referring to Ireland’s role in UN peace keeping, but today climate change threatens to provoke wars over resources and threaten freedom if we do not free ourselves from a reliance on fossil fuels. It is within our power and reach to switch to a cleaner energy source and it is an obligation to do so for the future of our planet. Rather than seeing this as a problem, the IWEA see it as an opportunity to further improve our country by using the clean energy resource that surrounds us.
So let us say once more why not? Let us brim with the optimism and zeal of a new State in the approach to its hundredth year anniversary and strive towards a modern, green and energy independent future by harnessing the power of our home grown wind energy.