Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Questions (17)

Catherine Martin


17. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which he plans to meet the target of 45,000 deep retrofits per annum by 2021. [41104/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

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 drive the step change in energy performance in the residential sector.

Currently Government is funding just under 30,000 home energy efficiency upgrades per annum to an average BER of C. The NDP ambition is to increase grant supported energy efficient renovations to circa 45,000 to a BER of B from 2021.

A number of actions which are outlined in the National Mitigation Plan and Long Term Renovation Strategy are already underway to achieve these levels of retrofit and promote deep retrofit of buildings across all building types and tenure. Those actions which relate specifically to homes are 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 such as insulation, heating controls and solar thermal technology. 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.

To build on what has been achieved through these schemes, and understand how we make the step change necessary to achieve the NDP ambition, we already gathering the real world evidence through two flagship projects, both of which follow international best practice:

- The Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme, which began in 2017 and will conclude at the end of 2019, is investigating how to create a scalable offering for the deep retrofit of Ireland’s housing stock to an A3 Building Energy Rating (BER), while building consumer demand and contractor capacity for deep retrofit. Under the scheme Government is funding up to 50% of the total capital and project management costs for homes that achieve an A3 Building Energy Rating post retrofit. This will inform a model that can make deep retrofit available to individual homeowners on a larger scale post 2020, and critically will help Ireland move away from fossil fuels to clean renewable heating systems, such as solar and heat pumps.

- 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 began in 2016 and this first phase will conclude at the end of this year. It is measuring the health and wellbeing impacts associated with improved energy efficiency. Not only is this evidence needed to make a robust business case for further public investment, it is critical for how we communicate the benefits of climate action. Increasing public understanding of the multiple benefits of energy efficiency is critical to motivate people to invest in, and make their contribution to, action on climate change.

While it is necessary to tailor offerings for the different circumstances of householders, the common goal of these actions is to drive the step change we need in energy performance, skills, capacity and investment, and understand how we build demand, grow the supply chain and offer attractive financing to leverage public investment and empower citizens to act on climate change.