I propose to take Questions Nos. 388 and 397 together.
The Government’s overriding energy policy objective is to ensure competitive, secure and sustainable energy for society and for the economy. Renewable energy has a critical role to play in regard to each element of this objective.
I welcome the recognition in the European Commission’s proposals for a 2030 Climate and Energy policy framework that renewable energy has an important contribution to make to the 2030 goals. Not only is the renewable energy sector of key importance in the context of how we reach overall climate change objectives, it also provides a real, and sustainable, economic opportunity for Ireland, both in terms of providing a secure, indigenous source of energy, and potentially as a clean export.
The Commission's proposals are an important milestone in a complex policy development process that spans two major EU policy areas. Considerable analysis is now required to ensure that the framework allows for action that is cost effective and does not place a disproportionate burden on EU energy consumers.
My Department will, over the coming months, work closely with other government departments in Ireland and with our European partners to establish the scale of the contribution Ireland should make to the achievement of the EU-wide binding target for renewable energy of at least 27% in 2030. The development of a new governance system as proposed by the Commission will also be part of this work and the Commission's forthcoming guidance on this will also need to be examined in due course.
In the meantime, the Government is fully committed to the delivery of the existing target of 16% of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. In 2012, 19.6% of electricity demand was met by renewable generation, with 5.2% of heat and 2.4% of transport energy requirements coming from renewable sources. Overall, at the end of 2012, 7.1% of our energy was provided from renewable sources. It is critical that every effort is maintained if we are to reach the 16% target for 2020, as it will provide the basis for reaching our 2030 objectives.
The Commission for Energy Regulation, CER, has oversight of the process for connecting generators, both renewable and non-renewable, to the Grid. I understand that the CER is currently reviewing the situation regarding the most recent Gate process, Gate 3, and expects to publish a public consultation paper regarding connections later this year. This process will take account of Government energy policy.