From: Reuters
Published March 27, 2008 10:09 AM

Irish utility launches $34.7 bln renewables drive

By Andras Gergely

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's Electricity Supply Board (ESB) on Thursday announced an investment program of 22 billion euros ($34.72 billion), half of which it plans to spend on renewable energy sources such as wind, tidal and biomass.

The company aims to halve its carbon emissions within 12 years, by which time it will be delivering one-third of its electricity from renewable generation, and to achieve a "carbon net-zero" by 2035, it said.

"This will include over 1,400 megawatts of wind generation, in addition to wave, tidal and biomass," it said in a statement.

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Ireland, where the Green Party holds the environment ministry, has launched government-backed schemes to develop wind power in a bid to boost renewable energy and cut the share of fossil fuels, of which Ireland imports nearly 90 percent.

ESB said on Thursday it would invest 4 billion euros directly in renewable energy projects and 6.5 billion euros to "facilitate" renewables by smart metering and smart networks.

"The 11 billion euros to be invested by ESB in its networks will ensure continued efficient delivery of the vital infrastructure needed to support the Irish economy," it said.

European Union countries agreed last year to cut emissions contributing to global warming by 2020 and increase the share of wind, solar, hydro and wave power in electricity output by the same date.

Aside from cutting emissions by at least one-fifth by 2020 from 1990 levels, EU states have agreed to use 20 percent of renewable energy sources in power production and 10 percent of biofuels from crops in transport by the same date.

Ireland set itself a target of obtaining a third of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

(Editing by James Jukwey)

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