Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Questions (14)

John Curran

Question:

14. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the immediate steps he is taking to ensure Ireland takes responsibility for its own energy supply; the increases there have been in the generation and supply of wind energy, solar PV energy, locally sourced biomass and biogas in each of the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41059/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive sets Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020, Ireland is committed to achieving this target through meeting 40% of electricity demand, 12% of heat and 10% of transport from renewable sources of energy. Despite starting from the fifth lowest level of renewable energy sources in our energy  mix in the 2005 reference year, very considerable progress has been made with the SEAI’s most recent projections indicating  an outturn in the range of 90% of the target likely to be achieved. In terms of the Electricity component of the overall target, latest data from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) indicate that 30.1% of our electricity came from renewable sources in 2017.  

Electricity production from wind energy has increased to the point that it accounted for 84% of the renewable electricity generated in 2017. The following table sets out the contributions from the different renewable energy sources in the period referred to in the Question. 

Renewables Electricity %

2015

2016

2017

Hydro (normalised)

2.5

2.5

2.4

Wind (normalised)

21.3

22.0

25.2

Biomass

1

1.6

1.8

Landfill Gas

0.6

0.6

0.5

Biogas

0.1

0.1

0.1

Solar

0.01

0.01

0.04

Renewables Electricity (overall)

25.2

26.8

30.1

Provisional figures for 2018 up to the end of August show that wind generation has increased by 6.6% while overall electricity demand increased by 2.4%.  Electricity generated from biomass accounted for 6% of renewable electricity in 2017. Approximately 14% of the biomass used for electricity generation in 2017 was imported.

The Government has also adopted a range of policy measures and schemes to incentivise the use of renewable energy including the Renewable Energy Feed-In-Tariff (REFIT) schemes.  In addition, the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), approved by Government in July, is designed to assist Ireland in meeting its renewable energy contributions out to 2030. It is expected that the first renewable electricity auctions will take place under the RESS in 2019.

I also launched a Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) this year, which is open to all non-domestic heat users not operating in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The purpose of the scheme is to reduce the use of fossil fuels within the heating sector.  

Moreover, the Government has committed significant funding to support electric vehicles through the National Development Plan which includes an allocation of €200 million for the period 2018-2027. This year, there has been 1,686 new electric vehicles sold, which represents a 135% increase on the same point in 2017.

In April 2018, in order to provide certainty to obligated parties, a policy statement on the Biofuel Obligation Scheme was published. This policy statement set out an increase in the obligation to 10% from 1 January 2019, which has already been given effect to by way of a Statutory Instrument, and to 11% from 1 January 2020.

In July, my Department published a National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection designed to enhance security of supply in Ireland. Work is underway on a proposed 700MW HVDC electricity interconnector between Ireland and France and the Greenlink Interconnector which is a 500MW HVDC interconnector between Wexford and Pembroke in Wales.

Finally, the SEAI has indicated that the use of renewables in electricity generation in 2017 avoided €276 million in fossil fuel imports.