Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Questions (2124, 2125, 2126)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

2124. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the increase in greenhouse gas emissions expected for each of the years from 2021 to 2030 should the subsidy for co-firing biomass with peat be operated in each of those years in the three peat-fired power plants compared with a situation in which no subsidy is made available. [35195/18]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

2125. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the cost expected in each year between 2021 and 2030 should the subsidy for co-firing biomass with peat be operated in each of those years in the three peat fired power plants compared with a situation in which no subsidy is made available. [35196/18]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

2126. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extra greenhouse gas emissions for each year up to 2030 predicted by the EPA and SEAI to result from the continuation of the existing biomass co-firing subsidy at Edenderry and the proposed extension of this subsidy to the other two peat-fired power plants, which subsidy would have the effect of keeping these three uneconomic peat plants in operation. [35197/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2124 to 2126, inclusive, together.

The Environmental Protection Agency produces greenhouse gas emissions projections on an annual basis for all key sectors of the economy in collaboration with relevant State and other bodies.

The EPA produces two scenarios when preparing greenhouse gas emission projections, a With Existing Measures (WEM) scenario and a With Additional Measures (WAM) scenario. The WEM scenario assumes that no additional policies and measures, beyond those already in place by the end of 2016 (the year of the latest national greenhouse gas emission inventory), are implemented. The WAM scenario assumes implementation of the WEM scenario as well as further implementation of Government renewable and energy efficiency policies and measures, including those set out in the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) and the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP). The latest projections from the EPA (published in May 2018) provide an updated assessment of Ireland’s total projected greenhouse gas emissions out to 2030.

As per the EPA projections for the Energy Industries sector, projected emissions in the WAM scenario show an increase over the WEM scenario from 2020 to 2025. The Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy that supports peat being used for power generation ceases in December 2019 under the WEM scenario, and consequently peat used for power generation significantly reduces. Thereafter, the fuel type used for electricity generation is influenced by fuel price and in this case gas largely replaces peat as one of the main fuels used for power generation leading to lower emissions. Emissions are higher in the WAM scenario based on the assumption that Ireland’s peat power plants are assumed to run with supports provided for under the REFIT III scheme. This scheme includes the co-firing of peat and biomass for power generation which means more peat is used after 2019 to co-fire with biomass. There will be a biomass co-firing share of 30% up to and including 2026. The peat share is then assumed to decrease linearly year-on-year to 0% by 2030, based on the 2015 Bord na Mona statement that they would end all peat production for energy by 2030. The assumption of biomass co-firing with peat post 2020 is not included in the WEM scenario as the REFIT III decision for co-firing at the relevant peat power plants was made in April 2017 (after the 31 December 2016 cut-off point for policies and measures to be included in the WEM scenario).

The Lough Ree and West Offaly plants will no longer receive support for their peat production under the PSO from the end of 2019. Both plants have been approved under the REFIT 3 scheme for PSO support for co-firing 30% of total capacity out to 2030, and it is expected that these plants will begin co-firing on biomass in 2019. These two plants require the relevant planning permission to operate beyond 2019. The Edenderry plant has been approved for 30% co-firing support out to 2030, subject to renewal of planning permission.

Details of the cost expected for each year between 2021 and 2030 should the subsidy be in place compared to a situation where there is no subsidy are necessarily not available at the moment, but will be the subject of future analytical work by my Department in due course. The future costs of co-firing with peat would depend on a number of factors, including the clearing price of electricity in the market, scale of generation, extent of operation and operational costs.

The emissions from the three peat fired power plants are accounted for under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). It is a matter for the companies’ involved to manage their emissions and ensure that they are in compliance with the ETS.