I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 and 60 together.
Ireland’s White Paper on Energy Policy, Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030, National Mitigation Plan (NMP) and Long Term Renovation Strategy (LTRS) all recognise the fact that extensive renovation of our building stock will need to take place in order to meet both national and international targets for energy savings and emissions reduction by 2050. These documents were informed by extensive stakeholder engagement and public consultation. The new SEAI report, Energy in the Residential Sector, is a timely reminder of the critical importance of energy efficiency to reduce energy use and enable the switch away from fossil fuels to renewable heating systems.
A number of actions which are outlined in the NMP and LTRS are already underway to promote deep renovation of buildings across all building types and tenure. Those actions which relate specifically to homes are outlined below.
The Better Energy Programme is funded by my Department and operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. It has been in place since 2009 and provides energy efficiency upgrades to homes. A short summary of the schemes under the programme is set out as follows.
- The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grant aid to homeowners who wish to improve the energy performance of their home. Fixed grants are provided towards the cost of a range of measures. I recently expanded this scheme to support the transition away from fossil fuels, and achieve greater energy savings and emissions reductions, by providing a grant for heat pumps and increasing the funding for external insulation.
- The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. I recently announced the expansion of the scheme to include internal and external wall insulation in order to increase the number of people that can receive upgrades and increase the energy savings and emissions reductions the scheme can achieve by enabling fuel switching.
- The Better Energy Communities scheme allows groups of buildings to apply for funding to improve their energy efficiency. This scheme has resulted in innovative approaches to renovation being developed, while also contributing to the overall reduction of energy usage and emissions from our building stock.
However, I am keenly aware of the need for a significant increase in effort in the post 2020 period and have introduced a number of initiatives to support this:
- The Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme is investigating the how to create a scalable offering for the deep retrofit of Ireland’s housing stock to an A3 Building Energy Rating (BER).
- The Warmth and Wellbeing Pilot Scheme, funded by my Department, is a joint policy initiative with the Department of Health, and is operated by SEAI and the HSE. It will measure the health and wellbeing impacts associated with improved energy efficiency. Increasing awareness of the multiple benefits of energy efficiency is critical to encourage people to invest in and make their contribution to action on climate change.
The National Development Plan 2018 -2027 recognises that improving the energy efficiency of the built environment is a central plank of Ireland’s action on climate change. Energy efficiency will also realise benefits for air quality, health, social inclusion, business competitiveness and better public services, all of which will make a real and positive impact on people’s lives. Exchequer investment of €4 billion, along with taxation and regulatory measures, are provided for under the NDP, to ensure a step change in the energy performance in the residential sector, with upgrades to homes increasing from 30,000 to 45,000 per annum from 2021. In addition, the completion of a comprehensive €750 million retrofit programme would place the public sector built environment on a sound trajectory for 2050 and lead the way in developing Ireland’s sustainable energy supply chain.
Further details of all the SEAI funding available for energy efficiency are available on their website: www.seai.ie/grants/.