Thursday, 4 July 2019

Questions (397)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

397. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which comparisons can be made between onshore and offshore wind generated electricity; the extent to which adequate investment will take place in the infrastructure to ensure the most expeditious transfer from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels in the generation of electricity thereby reducing the carbon footprint; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29060/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Climate Action Plan launched recently sets out the necessary policy measures to help meet our 2030 targets, cut our reliance on fossil fuels and put Ireland on a clear pathway to meeting our 2050 objectives. The Climate Action Plan includes a suite of actions to decarbonise the electricity sector and boost the quantity of renewable generation in order to meet our target of 70% of demand from renewable sources by 2030. The Climate Action Plan is available on my Department’s website: www.dccae.gov.ie.

Ireland has some of the best offshore renewable energy resources in Europe at 900,000 square kilometres. Because of Ireland’s location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. There is enormous potential for Ireland to utilise these resources to generate carbon free renewable electricity. While Onshore wind, currently generates a substantial proportion of the countries’ renewable electricity, comparatively, Offshore is underdeveloped. A key component of the Climate Action Plan will be the development of Offshore wind.

My Department published the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) in 2014 which sets out policy for the sustainable development of our abundant offshore renewable energy resources. An interim review of the OREDP was published in May and is available on my Department’s website: www.dccae.gov.ie. The Offshore Renewable Energy Steering Group, which oversees the implementation of the OREDP is progressing the recommendations of the review and continuing the work of implementing the actions and enablers set out in the Plan.

In order to realise Ireland’s ambition for large-scale development of offshore wind, significant progress is required on the three key pillars:

- Development management process

- Grid development model

- Route to market

The enduring consenting model/development management process will fall under the aegis of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill and the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) as well as a revised grid connection policy for Offshore Renewable energy.

To support the delivery of the national ambition to further decrease our dependence on foreign fossil fuels my Department is developing a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) which will assist Ireland in meeting its renewable energy contributions out to 2030 and will be designed to achieve its targets in a cost competitive way. The RESS will be characterised by a series of renewable electricity auctions, aligned with the ambition set out in the Climate Action Plan and the final National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) which is due to be submitted to the European Commission by the end of 2019. It is being designed to achieve its targets in a cost competitive way. Private sector funding through corporate contracting will also be essential for meeting higher levels of ambition to increase renewable energy supply and deliver on long term decarbonisation of the electricity sector.

Furthermore, it is my intention that corporate contracting of renewable energy sources (Power Purchase Agreements or PPAs) will provide 15% of the required generation to meet Ireland's 2030 renewable electricity target. Together, the RESS and Corporate PPAs will provide a route to market for the delivery of indicative volumes set out in the Plan of at least 3.5 GW of offshore renewable energy, up to 1.5 GW of grid-scale solar energy and up to 8.2 GW of onshore wind by 2030.