Written Answers. - Offshore Drilling.

Éamon Ó Cuív


21 Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the action, if any, being taken to ensure that the maximum number of Irish workers are employed on off-shore oil rigs drilling for oil off the Irish coast to ensure the maximum advantage to Ireland out of its potential oil resource; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3403/97]

I have no direct role in relation to manning levels on drilling rigs. However, I assure the Deputy that I am most anxious to do everything I can within the constraints of EU law to obtain benefits to the Irish economy from offshore exploration. I have encouraged the Irish Offshore Operators Association and the individual operators to give Irish workers and indeed Irish suppliers of goods and services the opportunity to participate in offshore activities and I will continue to do so.

Kathleen Lynch


22 Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the proposals, if any, he has to increase the proportion of primary energy requirements met through renewable energy sources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3840/97]

In March 1995, I announced the results of the first alternative energy requirement scheme (AER 1). This competition was designed by my Department, in conjunction with the ESB, to secure an additional 75MW of electricity generation capacity from alternative energy sources. In total the AER1 initiative yielded contract offers for 111 MW of capacity broken down as follows:


10 projects, (73MW)


10 projects (4MW)

Landfill Gas and Waste

6 projects (12MW)

Combined Heat and Power

8 projects (22MW)

In December 1995, I launched the competitive tendering scheme (AER II) to secure an electricity generating plant of up to 30 megawatts using biomass or waste as a fuel. I have received and considered the recommendation of the independent assessor which I appointed to assess the applications received under AER II
Under the Economic Infrastructure Operational Programme, a capital grant of up to £7.5 million is available for this project. The allocation of this grant is subject to certain conditions. In particular, my Department is required by the European Commission to undertake a socioeconomic cost-benefit analysis study of the recommended project. This study is being carried out by an independent consultant appointed by my Department. I will announce the result of the competition on completion of the study in the coming weeks.
In April 1996, I launched a long-term strategy for renewable energy entitled“Renewable Energy — A Strategy for the Future”. Under the strategy I have set targets for the development of renewables in Ireland up to the year 2010. My strategy sets a target of an additional 100MW from renewables by the end of 1999. This consists of 90MW from wind energy, 3MW from hydro and 7MW from biomass/waste. I have also allowed for the construction of Ireland's first wave energy to electricity pilot plant. I propose to allocate £7.5 million under the Economic Infrastructure Operational Programme to support projects up to the end of 1999.
The process of appointing an independent agency to conduct the competition to secure these targets is now under way. My strategy also set targets for the period 2000 to 2010 consisting of a target of 30MW for wind energy and 1MW for hydro each year.
The Deputy will also be aware of the EU Thermie programme which provides significant financial support for energy demonstration projects, including renewables. In recognition of the positive impact of this on renewable energy development in Ireland, I have included a special Thermie support initiative in my renewable energy strategy which guarantees electricity market access for successful renewable energy Thermie projects.