Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (18)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

18. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which adequate alternative energy electricity generating capacity is being provided for over the next 20 years with particular reference to the need to ensure the minimisation of carbon penalties; the need to ensure adequate energy resources to meet economic development requirements in the period in question; the extent to which it is expected to achieve energy self-sufficiency and security from non-fossil fuel sources in this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10959/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The overarching objective of the Government's energy policy is to ensure secure and sustainable supplies of competitively priced energy to all consumers. Ireland is currently heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. While it is acknowledged that fossil fuels will remain part of the energy mix for some time to come, progress is being made towards increasing the share of renewable energy in our generation porfolio.

The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive set Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. In order to meet this target, Ireland is committed to meeting 40% of electricity demand from renewable sources. Figures for 2013 show that 19% of electricity demand was met from renewables.To date wind energy has been the largest driver of growth in renewable electricity, contributing most towards the achievement of the 2020 target. In 2013, 17% of electricity demand was met by wind generation. At the end of 2013, the total amount of renewable generation connected to the grid was 2,300 MW. It is estimated that a total of between 3,500 and 4,000 MW of onshore renewable generation capacity will be required to allow Ireland to meet its 40% renewable electricity target. Currently, around 3,000 MW of renewable generation has taken up connection offers under the Gate 3 grid connection programme.

The issue of carbon penalties potentially arises with regard to Ireland's 2020 renewable energy target. Currently Ireland is in line with our forecast trajectory to meet this target. My Department closely monitors progress in this regard. We are now looking towards a new EU energy and climate change framework for 2030, and to acheiving a low carbon economy by 2050. Following the recent publication by the European Commission of its proposal for a 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, my Department is undertaking analysis to establish the scale of the contribution Ireland can make to the achievement of the proposed EU renewable energy target of 27%, while ensuring that action taken will be cost effective.