I propose to take Questions Nos. 11, 17, 21 and 30 together.
Renewable energy currently accounts for 2 per cent of Ireland's total primary energy requirement and almost 6 per cent of installed electricity generation capacity. As a result of my initiatives to date, renewables are likely to account for approximately 10 per cent of the installed electricity capacity by the year 2000. The development of renewable energy is a cornerstone of the Government's overall energy policy. The use of renewables enables us to progress economically without adverse effect on the environment and also strengthens our security of energy supply.
In March 1995 I announced the winners of the first Alternative Energy Requirement Competition, AER 1, which was developed by my Department in conjunction with ESB to secure up to an additional 75 megawatts of electricity generation capacity from alternative sources. The response to the competition was such that a total of 34 contracts for a total additional electricity generation capacity of 111 megawatts were offered, as follows: wind — ten projects (73 megawatts); hydro — ten projects (4 megawatts);-landfill gas and waste — six projects (12 megawatts) and combined heat and power — eight projects (22 megawatts).
All AER 1 projects must be ready to sell electricity by 31 December 1997. Projects are at different stages of development with 22 of the 34 projects having secured planning permission to date. This represents a total additional capacity of 67 megawatts. Of the 34 contracts offered, 13 power purchase agreements, amounting to 35 megawatts, have been signed to date by developers. My Department monitors the progress of all the AER1 projects. From the latest information available to me, I estimate that the eventual outcome of AER 1 will be quite close to the original target of 75 megawatts.
As Deputies will by now be aware, I announced the result of the AER II competition in late February. This initiative will increase the installed electricity generation capacity from renewables by a further 30 megawatts. In April 1996 I launched a new long-term renewable energy strategy. Under the strategy I have set targets for the development of renewables in Ireland up to the year 2010.
As part of this I will in the coming weeks launch the AER III competition which will seek to secure an additional 100 megawatts from renewables by the end of 1999, made up of 90 megawatts from wind, 7 megawatts from biomass or waste and 3 megawatts from hydro. It is also my intention to organise a competition at the same time for the construction of Ireland's first wave energy to electricity pilot plant, to be built also by the end of 1999. Subject to EU approval, European Regional Development Fund funding of 9.3 million ECU, approximately £6.9 million, is available to support successful AER III projects. My strategy also sets annual targets of 30 megawatts for wind and 1 megawatt for hydro for the period 2000 to 2010. Specific targets for biomass-waste and landfill gas will be decided at a future date.
The European Union recognises the need to support the greater penetration of renewable energies into the energy market. The optimum exploitation of renewables can only be achieved within the framework of a co-ordinated support strategy. For this reason, and considering the important role renewable energy will play in meeting future Irish and EU energy needs, the development of an EU strategy for renewables was highlighted as an energy priority of Ireland's Presidency of the EU.
As a result of this prioritisation, and following pressure from me, the Commission presented a Green Paper on an EU Strategy for Renewable Energy to the Council of Ministers meeting which I chaired on 3 December last. Because of the importance I attach to renewables, the Irish Presidency held an open debate on the topic at Council. The Commission's Green Paper was generally welcomed by Ministers who recognised that renewables have a role to play in enhancing security of energy supply and in addressing the environmental impact of energy production.
The strategy must be capable of facilitating the successful exploitation of the European renewable resource and of supporting the development of a strong, self-sustaining and competitive renewable energy industry and technology manufacturing base. Only in this way can it make a positive contribution to job creation and economic development. I expect the strategy and a detailed action plan to be finalised by the middle of 1997.
The ALTENER 1 programme was introduced by the Commission in 1993 to facilitate the greater use of renewables. Ireland is committed to supporting the objectives of ALTENER which are: doubling the use of renewable energy sources from 4 per cent of total energy consumption in 1991 to 8 per cent by 2005, trebling the production of electricity from renewables by 2005, and securing a bio-fuels market share of 5 per cent of the total motor vehicle usage by 2005. Pending the introduction of ALTENER II, on which much progress was made during the Irish EU Energy Presidency, ALTENER 1 is continuing.
In addition to ALTENER, the Commission funds research on renewable energy technologies under the JOULE programme and technical demonstrations of innovative systems under the THERMIE programme. The THERMIE programme has, to date, created a significant energy impact in Ireland and for this reason I have made a special provision in my renewable energy strategy which guarantees electricity market access for THERMIE supported renewable energy projects.
At present in Ireland there are nine THERMIE supported renewable energy projects being developed. These amount to an additional capacity of 16.9 megawatts. My strategy has enabled these projects to succeed and entitles them to contract for the sale of electricity for a period of 15 years.