I thank Deputy O'Sullivan for this question. The 2009 EU renewable energy directive sets Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. Good progress has been made to date but the target remains challenging, particularly in light of economic growth and a growing demand for energy. Figures provided by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, for 2015 indicate that 9.1% of the overall 16% target has been met by renewable sources.
The Government has adopted a range of policy measures and schemes to incentivise the use of renewable energy. The primary support mechanism in the electricity sector is the Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff, REFIT, scheme, which supports the development of a range of renewable electricity technologies including hydro, biomass combustion, biomass combined heat and power, landfill gas and onshore wind.
Ireland has made considerable progress in the decarbonisation of our electricity sector in recent years, with over 25% of our electricity coming from renewable sources in 2016. This progress, while welcome, will need to accelerate with pace in the coming years.
With regard to future policy initiatives, my Department is developing a proposed new renewable electricity support scheme and renewable heat incentive scheme designed to assist in meeting our renewable energy sources for electricity, RES-E, and renewable energy sources for heat, RES-H, targets. The introduction of any new scheme, including the overall costs and technologies to be supported, will be the subject of Government approval and state aid clearance from the European Commission.
In the transport sector, Ireland aims to meet its renewable target mainly through the increased use of sustainable biofuels, with electric vehicles also making a small contribution. The biofuel obligation scheme was increased from 6% to 8% by volume from 1 January 2017. A public consultation on future increases to the biofuel obligation scheme, required to meet the 2020 renewable transport target, will take place later this year.
Ireland has one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world, and offshore renewable energy will have an important role in Ireland’s future renewable energy mix. While offshore wind has globally been developed successfully, wave and tidal energy is still at the research and development stage. Notwithstanding the development of promising experimental devices, much more research, development and trials are required to bring wave energy technology to commercial viability.
The Government's policy on the sustainable development of our indigenous offshore wind, wave and tidal energy resources is set out in the 2014 offshore renewable energy development plan.