Challenging the Path Dependence of Dominant Energy Systems
Edited by William M. Lafferty and Audun Ruud
4. Ireland: putting the wind up the political system Gerard Mullally and Jillian Murphy* INTRODUCTION Ireland is now recognized as one of the most globalized societies in the Western world. The Irish economy underwent a period of unprecedented economic growth in the 1990s, earning the country the label of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. The central role of foreign direct investment, largely from US multinational companies, in the Irish economy has meant that Irish development has tended to be perceived as a European example of ‘dependent development’. A signiﬁcant element of this dependence, highlighted in the oil crises of the 1970s, was the extent to which Ireland is dependent on the importation of fuel. This dependence created a political context in which proposals to introduce nuclear power into the Irish energy system were both advanced and subsequently rejected following the mobilization of a widespread antinuclear movement (Baker 1990). The opposition to the proposal to construct a nuclear power facility at Carnsore Point, County Wexford is widely regarded as the nursery of Irish environmentalism, and the context in which demand for ‘soft-path’ energy technologies was fostered. The 2007 government White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland, has recently reasserted the statutory prohibition on the nuclear generation of electricity in Ireland (DCMNR 2007: 25), and identiﬁes a central role for renewable sources for electricity generation (RES-E) to 2020. While much of the EU has adequate or even surplus generation capacity, there will be continuing need for new capacity over the...
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