I propose to take Questions Nos. 10, 13 and 16 together.
In order to meet our 2020 binding targets, the Government is committed to increasing renewable energy to 40% in the electricity sector, 10% in the transport sector and 12% in the heating sector, which together amount to 16% overall, in line with our target under the EU renewable energy directive. A number of organisations are providing details on progress in this regard. This week, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, published its 2012 report Energy in Ireland. The total use of renewables in Ireland almost trebled between 2003 and 2011. The report showed that, in 2011, Ireland had 17.6% renewable electricity, 2.6% renewable transport and 4.8% renewable heating, meaning that, in total, 6% of all energy consumed was from renewable sources. Other bodies, such as EirGrid and ESB Networks, report on matters such as daily wind energy penetration and grid connection issues.
To meet our current energy demands, we are importing around 90% of our required fuel. This is at a cost of approximately €6 billion per annum. Developing renewable sources of energy will help Ireland to meet our 2020 targets and to reduce our dependence on these fuel imports by replacing them with indigenous resources. Ireland has renewable energy infrastructure generating approximately 2000 MW connected to the electricity grid. To meet our renewable electricity targets for 2020, it is estimated that a further 2000 MW of renewables will be required.
In addition to achieving this ambitious target, a significant challenge will be to ensure we are able to build the necessary supporting grid infrastructure to accept new renewable generation, which is typically in more remote areas that have weak grid systems. Our ability to get this infrastructure built is critical to achieving our renewable energy ambitions. In this regard, EirGrid’s GRID25 strategy and implementation plans are designed to deliver the necessary grid developments and reinforcements to underpin the new renewable generating capacity, in addition to regional economic development.
To incentivise the development of renewable electricity, a feed-in tariff scheme is in place. Renewable energy feed-in tariff, REFIT, which was introduced in 2006 for wind-sourced generation, small hydro, landfill gas and biomass-generated electricity, operates by guaranteeing a minimum floor price for renewable energy generation over a 15-year period. In order to accelerate the uptake of renewables, two new REFIT schemes were introduced in 2012. The first, REFIT 3, is to encourage biomass-sourced generation, and the second is to encourage further wind-sourced generation into addition to generation from small hydro and landfill gas. The REFIT schemes are funded through the PSO levy that is funded by all electricity consumers.
REFIT 3 is designed to incentivise the addition of 310 MW of renewable electricity capacity to the Irish electricity grid. The technologies supported include anaerobic digestion and combined heat and power, which will also contribute to our renewable heat targets. It also contains incentives for cofiring of biomass in peat powered generation plants with a premium for the use of energy crops. REFIT 3 will, over time, create further demand for biomass, which will provide new opportunities in the biomass sector and encourage the establishment of new rural enterprises.
The electricity market is fully liberalised and decisions to participate in the scheme are commercial for the individual electricity generating companies involved. I am informed by my Department that there has been significant interest in the REFIT 3 scheme and letters of offer have been given for approximately 44 MW of generation with a similar amount under consideration. Other developers are at earlier stages of development with their projects.