Legal Barriers to Renewable Energy

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    In 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was agreed at the Earth Summit' in Rio'. The UNFCCC has as its ultimate objective the stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous man-made interference with the climate system. Developed countries committed themselves to adopt policies with the aim of returning individually or jointly to their 1990 levels of emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gas. Ireland's climate change policy operates within the context of overall EU climate change strategy. Prior to the agreement on the UNFCCC, the EU committed itself in 1990 to the stabilisation of CO2 emissions in the Union as a whole by the year 2000 at their 1990 levels. Within that overall stabilisation objective, Ireland agreed to limit the increase in its CO2 emissions to 20% above 1990 levels by the year 2000. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC was agreed and set legally binding targets for developed countries for the period 2008-2012. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU has agreed to reduce its emissions of the six greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride, by 8% below 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012. As part of the internal EU burden sharing arrangement under the joint fulfilment provisions of the Protocol, Ireland has agreed to limit the increase in emissions of the six greenhouse gases to 13% above 1990 levels by the same period.

    Clearly one of the most obvious ways in which CO2 emissions could be reduced is to minimise the amount of fossil fuel used to generate electricity. To do this locally, close to the point of use brings with it other benefits in terms of both efficiency and reduction in the need for enhanced capacity in national grid systems (in the case of solar energy we can see that there is also a role for direct use of the solar energy for heating but this paper will concentrate on electricity generation only). However, in many parts of the world including both the UK and Ireland the adoption of renewable means of energy utilisation on a small scale is probably much less than is optimal. What prevents individuals and small organisations adopting renewable energy systems. Clearly one of the potential barriers may be the law. Does the law encourage or discourage renewable energy adoption on a small scale? This paper seeks to look at the law as it affects both individual property owners and on architects and developers to identify where the law might be changed to facilitate renewable energy utilisation.

    The following areas of the law can be identified as important in encouragement/discouragement of renewables at a small scale:
    Laws which encourage economic sale of excess production into the grid whilst avoiding unreasonable connection costs.
    Laws which allow access to and, more importantly, protection of renewable resources.

    Manufacturing standards for renewable installations to provide quality assurance to potential purchasers.

    Building standards to ensure that renewables can be incorporated into new buildings.

    The first half of this Paper will look in detail at the ways in which these aspects of the law can impinge upon the uptake of renewable energy at a domestic and small-scale commercial level.
    The second part of this paper examines the law in Ireland which relates to these matters and compares it both to its nearest neighbour the, the UK and other jurisdictions to see whether, in the law making process, Ireland can either learn from the mistakes of others or perhaps pick up some good ideas. It will hopefully point the way in which law making will necessarily go so that architects can both start to incorporate the potential for new legislation into their designs and help to influence the law making process appropriately.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2000
    Event1st British Institute of Architectural Technologists International Conference - Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
    Duration: 23 Nov 200024 Nov 2000
    Conference number: 1


    Conference1st British Institute of Architectural Technologists International Conference
    Abbreviated titleBIAT Conference


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