Energy challenges and opportunities for 2021 top agenda at Electric Ireland Business customer forum

Last week, Electric Ireland business customers heard from international energy expert, Claire O’Neill, about the key challenges and opportunities for Ireland’s energy market in 2021 and beyond.

At the business customer forum, hosted by Electric Ireland, Claire O’Neill spoke of the impacts of the pandemic and Brexit on the energy landscape in 2021 but pointed to exciting times for energy in Ireland and Europe.

As Managing Director for Climate and Energy at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Claire offered a first-hand look at the '5 Cs', or key issues, she sees as most impacting energy in Ireland and globally right now:

• Cost – organisations can do everything possible to reduce operating costs but ultimately the majority of energy costs are in the hand of national policy makers.  
• Carbon – the journey to transition Ireland to a low carbon future is a significant undertaking but good progress is being made with the adoption of onshore wind and a commitment to reduce coal dependency.  
• Certainty – How we connect up energy systems to ensure certainty of supply into the future is vital.  The Single Electricity Market has been a positive development in the wake of Brexit. The Celtic interconnector will be another important way to support certainty of supply. 
• Complexity – Energy policy can be complex. To ensure the much-needed funding for the transition to a low carbon future is secured, we all need to better articulate the issues to investors  
• Cooperation – Large organisations are experts in how their energy is managed and have an important role with other stakeholders in changing the energy system.

As a former UK Minister of State for Climate Change and Energy, Claire emphasised the importance of international collaboration and energy interconnection. Claire also noted that as large users of energy, organisations are a vital part of the energy transformation to a low carbon world. Claire said to achieve these fundamental changes in the energy system are needed through collaboration.

The audience also heard from Dermot McArdle, Head of Business Markets at Electric Ireland, who shared his thoughts for the months and years ahead. 

Dermot acknowledged that there is still uncertainty regarding the full resumption of the economy, in light of Covid, but reassured customers that Electric Ireland will continue to provide business customers around the country with the services needed to preserve ‘business-as-usual’ which is critical during these exceptional times.

Dermot also spoke of Electric Ireland’s commitment to continue investment in capabilities and offerings to large energy customers. Dermot noted that collaborating and providing support to business customers is a key element of Electric Ireland’s strategy in leading the transition to a low-carbon future.

The event concluded with a lively Q&A, managed by RTÉ’s Sarah McInerney, which included discussions on what large organisations can do to reduce their carbon emissions, how Electric Ireland can support them in energy management and renewables investment and future energy trends for Ireland including offshore wind adoption.  

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