Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The Irish government, despite what happens for Great Britain, is committed to the European Union's energy and renewable policies, the environment minister said.
"Ireland is now a world leader in integrating renewables onto the electricity grid," Irish Environment Minister Denis Naughten said in comments emailed Wednesday from a renewable energy conference in Dublin. "Whatever the final EU ambition ends up being, there will be significant opportunities for you, the Irish renewable energy sector, to participate domestically and internationally."
When the EU adopted its renewable energy guidelines in 2009, the Irish economy had about 3.1 percent of its energy sourced from renewables. By the end of last year, Naugthen said the energy mix was closer to 30 percent.
Of the 28 members of the EU, 11 have already met their targets, according to the latest European data. Of those, Sweden is the clear leader with 53.8 percent of its energy coming from renewable resources, followed by Finland with 38.7 percent.
Ireland is one of the furthest away from its goals, according to Eurostat, the EU's record-keeping division.
From renewable sources for heat, to solar power and offshore wind energy, the minister said Irish ambitions are clearly in line with the European agenda, "notwithstanding the decision of our closest neighbors."
Naughten said the government estimated that Irish business could capture as much as $260 million of the EU solar market. As much as 50 gigawatts of wind energy are possible.
The British government under Prime Minister Theresa May continues to chart its course out of the EU. Energy U.K., a trade group representing hundreds of suppliers and producers, told a panel formed by the House of Lords that the grid won't collapse after leaving the EU, but it might not function to the benefit of consumers.