The National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) sets out 90 actions that Government is either already taking or will take in the period to 2020 to achieve the national energy efficiency targets of 20% across the economy and 33% in the public sector. The savings identified in the Action Plan represent approximately €1.6 billion in avoided energy costs for the economy in 2020.
The key NEEAP actions undertaken to date are as follows:
The Home Energy Saving (HES) Scheme, which is administered by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), was launched in March 2009. The scheme provides grant assistance to homeowners for energy efficiency retro-fitting measures including attic and wall insulation, very high-efficiency boilers, heating controls and Building Energy Rating (BER) assessments.
The scheme is open to anybody owning a house that was built prior to 2006. Homeowners can expect to save up to €700 per year on their energy bills if they install the full suite of measures available under the scheme. The scheme offers grants of up to 40% of the typical cost of energy efficiency upgrade measures, depending on the measure concerned. The scheme had attracted 40,724 applications by the end of December 2009. In total, 33,434 energy efficient measures were installed in 18,183 homes in 2009.
The Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS) provides support for low income housing for insulation and other energy efficiency improvement measures. This scheme is also managed by SEI and implemented by local community groups. Measures include cavity wall insulation, attic insulation, boiler lagging jackets, draught proofing measures and Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). These measures are provided free or at a nominal cost to the householder. Advice is also provided on minimising energy use. Some €20 million was provided for the scheme in 2009, which included a contribution of €5 million from ESB and BGE. This enabled energy efficiency improvements to be made in over 19,000 vulnerable homes in 2009, effectively doubling the total number of homes benefiting under the scheme in the previous ten years.
In the business sector, the most significant cost-cutting and energy saving potential lies in improving the energy performance requirements of new non-residential buildings, improvement of existing buildings, encouraging more businesses and public bodies to actively address their energy use and to use the most energy efficient plant, machinery and equipment. In 2009, SEI delivered a €5 million programme that provided grant assistance to the business and public sectors. The programme supports energy efficiency measures for businesses and institutions across the country. Over 74 projects have been funded under the programme. As a result of the work carried out, annual energy savings worth €2.6 million and 12kt CO2 where achieved.
SEI also ran a €1.3m support programme providing energy assessments and training to local authorities and other public sector agencies. This has resulted in savings worth between €1.2M and €1.8M in 2009. A range of best practice guides were also developed and an energy efficiency design process initiated to incorporate energy efficiency principles into the design of new or retrofitted public sector services. Regulations introduced in December 2009 require all public bodies to include, in its annual reports published after January 1st next year, a statement describing the actions it is taking to improve its energy efficiency, together with an assessment of the energy savings arising from those actions. SEI is currently finalising the methodology for calculating energy savings across the public sector.
For 2010, a dedicated public sector programme will build on the work of 2009. The Energy Efficiency in the Public Sector Programme will be the main delivery mechanism for energy efficiency actions by public sector bodies. In addition to the services provided in 2009, areas to be supported in 2010 include:
Developing Energy Service Company (ESC) led models under new the National Retrofit programme, outlined in the Budget
Assisting public sector bodies in the development of 2020 energy efficiency strategies to 2020
Working in partnership with all Departments in relation to energy efficient design and procurement.
Regulations have also been finalised to give effect to the EU Energy Efficiency Directive that include new energy efficient public procurement rules. These new rules will require public bodies to purchase or lease only plant and equipment across a diverse range of technologies that are listed on SEI's database of highly energy efficient products. This database has already been developed as part of the Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) Scheme for energy efficient technologies.
SEI is also required under the regulations with producing general guidelines on energy efficient procurement and these will be progressed in conjunction with the new OPW National Public Procurement Office and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
The ACA scheme was expanded in 2009 to take account of additional categories including energy efficient IT infrastructure and electric vehicles. Companies can now write off the full capital cost of energy efficient equipment in the year of purchase. The ACA scheme currently covers equipment accounting for at least 60% of the energy used by industry in Ireland.
In compliance with the 2006 and 2008 Building Regulations, it is also the policy of Office of Public Works (OPW) that it will conduct feasibility studies on the utilisation of renewable energy technologies in all new buildings over 1,000m2 as part of the design process.
The OPW has already installed a number of biomass boiler systems and Solar Panel systems in both new and existing buildings where it has been shown to be both technically and economically feasible. OPW will continue to take this approach.
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has recently prioritised work through the statutory Building Regulations Advisory Board to establish achievable targets for reductions in primary energy and CO2 emissions for buildings in all sectors of the economy including public sector buildings, with a view to upgrading the requirements in Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) of the Building Regulations in 2010. The work programme currently under way will inform the development of a programme for continuous improvement in Part L requirements in coming years with a view to achieving a Carbon Neutral building standard for buildings other than dwellings, including civic buildings, by 2016.
SEI's Large Industry Energy Network (LIEN) continues to engage with the largest energy using enterprises (in manufacturing and services) where the 120 member companies collectively spend over €800 million per annum on energy. Recently published analysis shows that by spending €1.9 million these companies avoided energy costs of €60 million in 2008 alone.
The National Energy Retrofit Programme, announced on Budget Day, will further reduce energy costs and carbon emissions in homes and business while also creating employment and developing a sustainable market for energy services in Ireland. The detailed design and specification of the new programme is being finalised by my Department and SEI. The Programme will be the subject of a public consultation shortly. In broad terms the Retrofit Programme will bring together the HES Scheme and the WHS as well as the support programme for business and the public sector. It will also involve the development and promotion of energy services by the energy companies.
This new Programme has the potential to be the most innovative, ambitious, energy-related initiative ever introduced in Ireland. It will significantly reduce CO2 emissions and contribute to meeting the national efficiency targets including the target of 33% set for the public sector. It will also create significant employment in the energy and construction sectors in support of economic renewal.