Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Questions (60)

Mick Wallace


60. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the carbon emissions projections if and when the three peat-fired electricity generating stations here complete their planned transition to biomass combustion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14247/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

As set out in the National Development Plan, the Government intends that, by 2030, peat and coal will no longer have a role in electricity generation in Ireland in line with Ireland’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. The use of peat will be progressively eliminated by 2030 by converting peat power stations to low-carbon technologies. This includes the use of sustainable biomass in place of peat, which will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from these power stations during the remainder of their operational lifetime.

While the EPA projects that emissions from the three plants will progressively reduce to zero from the middle of the decade to 2030, in line with the National Development Plan and the companies' own plans, the specific emissions from each of the three peat plants during this period will be subject to year-on-year fluctuations arising from a number of factors, including:

- the technical availability of plants to run;

- the actual share of biomass in generation at any given point in time; and

- overall generation of electricity by the plants during the course of the year, which will depend on a number of factors, including relative wholesale fuel prices for power, ETS carbon prices and factors related to the operation of wholesale electricity market in Ireland.

The generation of electricity from peat has been supported at three power stations (West Offaly, Lough Ree and Edenderry) for security of supply purposes, with total emissions amounting to 2.36MT in 2018. Phase 3 of the PSO-funded Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff provides support for co-firing of biomass up to 30% of the capacity of each of the three power stations. This support provides a transitional period to allow Bord na Móna to plan and manage the move away from peat harvesting for electricity production. Since 2016, Edenderry has used the REFIT 3 support to co-fire biomass along with peat. This power station has statutory planning permission to continue to operate in this configuration until the end of 2023. The two ESB power stations are expected to begin co-firing using the REFIT 3 support scheme, once the existing peat-only PSO ceases in December 2019. These two power stations currently have planning permission to operate by co-firing biomass with peat, to December 2020.