Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (108, 111, 120)

John McGuinness

Question:

108. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his assessment of the future for the biofuels sector here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10082/13]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

111. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which he sees biofuels playing a role in renewable energy strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10077/13]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

120. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans regarding the biofuels sector here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10073/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108, 111 and 120 together.

The Biofuel Obligation Scheme was introduced in July 2010 as the primary means to meet the target of at least 10% renewable energy in transport by 2020, which was mandated by the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. In preparing the National Renewable Energy Action Plan as required pursuant to the Directive, it was estimated that at least 8.4% of the energy in transport in Ireland in 2020 will come from the use of biofuels with the remainder achieved by the increased deployment of electric vehicles. In common with other Member States the uptake of electric vehicles is likely to be lower than originally anticipated in the context of 2020 and therefore biofuels will likely be required to play a more significant role in meeting the 10% target.

The Biofuel Obligation Scheme works by obligating large road transport fuel suppliers to bring a certain amount of sustainable biofuels to the market. The scheme was introduced with an obligation on fuel suppliers to include at least 4% by volume biofuels in their overall disposal of road transport fuels. In order to maintain progress towards achieving the 2020 targets, I increased the obligation to 6% by volume with effect from 1 January 2013. It should be noted that strict sustainability criteria must be met in respect of biofuels to be counted under the scheme and towards our renewable energy targets.

Recently, the European Commission circulated a proposal to amend sections of the Renewable Energy Directive. This proposal is currently being progressed and is one of the major agenda items for the Irish presidency of the EU. One of the amendments proposed is that no more than 5% of the energy in the transport sector should come from biofuels produced from certain crops. My Department is currently examining the proposal and its implications for meeting the target of 10% renewable energy by 2020. However, there are no implications for the current obligation rate of 6% as the overall energy content delivered by the obligation will not breach the proposed 5%. The obligation rate of 6% will remain the same until the end of 2014. Decisions on further increases after 2014 will be taken after any amendments to the Renewable Energy Directive have been finalised.

The Biofuel Obligation has successfully delivered increased amounts of biofuel in Ireland resulting in 145 million litres being placed on the Irish market in 2011. Of this, approximately 18.5 million litres was produced indigenously from waste material such as used cooking oil. Though figures for 2012 are not yet available, I understand that the amount of indigenous biofuel on the market increased last year. The recent increase in the obligation rate along with future increases will see the biofuel market grow to an estimated 500 million litres by 2020. This will continue to create opportunities for indigenous industry to produce biofuels here in Ireland.