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Thursday, 4 Nov 2021

Written Answers Nos. 18-32

Departmental Schemes

Questions (18)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

18. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the engagement his Department has had with other Departments and agencies to ensure that Ireland has the skilled workforce needed to retrofit or improve the energy efficiency in buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53541/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

In order to achieve our ambitious national retrofit targets over the next 10 years, it is essential that we develop the supply chain and ensure that we have the required number of appropriately skilled workers. For that reason, "supply chain, skills and standards" is one of the four pillars of the forthcoming National Residential Retrofit Plan. Officials from my Department have been engaging with the relevant Departments in that regard. This engagement has included working with the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and other key stakeholders through the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs. The Expert Group will shortly publish an important new report which analyses the Irish labour market and identifies the nature and quantifies the scale of the skills needed to support the transition to a low carbon economy including retrofit. It will also present recommendations on measures to build up the supply of skills required.

My officials have also been engaging with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science which is responsible for policy, funding and governance of the higher and further education sectors. As part of Budget 2022, Minister Harris’s Department has provided €22 million for the Green Skills Action programme. The Programme includes a focus on provision in Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) and Retrofitting as well as the development of new modules in green skills. €17 million of the Budget provision relates to the Retrofit and NZEB expansion and will provide for an additional 2,650 places, bringing the total number of places to 4,550 by the end of 2022. NZEB and retrofit programmes are provided in Waterford Wexford ETB, Laois Offaly ETB and Mount Lucas National Construction Training Centre with work ongoing to establish a further three centres of excellence in Cork, Limerick/Clare and Mayo/Sligo/Leitrim ETBs.

A Vision for Change

Questions (19)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

19. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will prepare an updated strategy to combat energy poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53683/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Energy poverty or fuel poverty is influenced by a person’s income, the energy efficiency of their home and the cost of the energy they use in their home. The Government’s Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty was published in 2016 and good progress has been made including:

- Funding for SEAI's free energy poverty retrofit schemes has increased dramatically over the period from €15 million in 2015 to €109 million for 2022;

- The Housing for All Strategy has committed to introducing minimum Building Energy Ratings for rented properties;

- The allocations for retrofit of social housing have also increased significantly with an allocation of €85 million for 2022.

- A range of schemes to assist low-income households with energy costs are also available from the Department of Social Protection. Budget 2022 has provided for a €5 increase to the Fuel Allowance to €33 per week, as well as an extension of the eligibility criteria for the payment.

Research published in 2016 found that 28% of households in Ireland would need to spend more than 10% of their income on their energy needs. More recently, the ESRI carried out an analysis of the number of households at risk of experiencing energy poverty. This showed that the share of households needing to spend more than 10% of their income on their energy needs was 17.5% in 2020. The Survey on Income and Living Conditions indicates that the proportion of people who report that they are unable to afford to keep the home adequately warm, has fallen from 9% in 2015 to 4.9% in 2019.

A review of the implementation of the Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty will be completed early next year and will inform next steps in relation to the development of a new strategy. Measures to support those least able to afford to retrofit their homes will also be included in the new National Retrofit Plan which will be published shortly.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (20)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

20. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the original target for the connection of premises in County Mayo under the National Broadband Plan by the end of 2021; the current target for the end of 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53696/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There are over 84,000 premises in County Mayo of which over 36,000 are within the National Broadband Plan Intervention Area and will receive access to high speed broadband under the State led intervention to be delivered by National Broadband Ireland. Government investment in County Mayo under the NBP will be in the order of €145 million.

I am advised by National Broadband Ireland that as of 27 October, over 9,000 premises in County Mayo have been surveyed. Surveys are complete in areas around Castlebar, Ballina, Newport and Carrowmorelacken. Surveys are ongoing in the areas around Killadoon.

In addition to the challenges to the delivery of the NBP due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NBI has faced a range of other challenges due to the sheer scale and complexity of rolling out fibre to the home in a rural environment. These include significant tree trimming to ensure cable can be placed on overhead poles, remediation of ducting that has been in place for many decades, the co-ordination of hundreds of contracting crews and addressing the many issues arising week on week which could not have been foreseen until the build crews commenced work on the ground.

The original target for premises passed in areas around Castlebar and Ballina was 4,563 premises by the end of 2021. My Department has worked closely with NBI to put in place a remedial plan under the Contract which addresses delays experienced by NBI, primarily arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This plan rebaselines milestones for 2021 and work is currently underway to rebaseline milestones for 2022. As a result, NBI anticipates that premises around Castlebar will be passed and available for connection in H1, 2022 and around Ballina in H2, 2022.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (21)

Marc Ó Cathasaigh

Question:

21. Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the actions he is taking to scale up the retrofit of low-income homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52962/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department funds a number of SEAI grant schemes to support homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. Since 2000, over 450,000 homeowners have upgraded their homes with support from these schemes, representing nearly one home in four across the country. This has resulted in warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes that are easier to heat and light. Budget 2022 has allocated €202 million for residential and community retrofit next year. Over half of this, €109 million, will be used to provide free energy efficiency upgrades to households that are in, or at risk of, energy poverty. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage will invest a further €85 million as part of the Social Housing Retrofit Programme in 2022. Overall, this represents an allocation of €194 million to retrofitting homes of those most at risk of energy poverty next year - an increase of €20 million on this year’s allocation.

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low-income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date, over 143,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme. In the first six months of 2021, the average value of the energy efficiency measures provided per household was approximately €17,100.

In addition to the significant capital allocation for the Warmer Homes Scheme next year, resources have been provided to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme. In addition, delivery capacity in the supply chain has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020.

Measures to support those least able to afford to retrofit their homes will also be included in the new National Retrofit Plan which will be published shortly.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (22, 38, 78, 212, 213)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

22. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the actions he will take to increase the grants for retrofitting in order that the monies available meet the actual cost of retrofitting homes to the highest standard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53675/21]

View answer

Colm Burke

Question:

38. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the engagement his Department has had with other Departments on possible supports for householders in private accommodation for retrofitting to complement the social homes retrofit programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46329/21]

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Steven Matthews

Question:

78. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the steps he will take to ensure that middle income households are supported in accessing retrofitting programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53502/21]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

212. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties persons encounter in respect of meeting the full upfront costs of retrofitting in instances when they are in receipt of an SEAI grant; and his plans to reform the way in which grant aid can be used for retrofitting in the context of staged payments for works in order to ease the cost burden. [53935/21]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

213. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to establish a national frontloaded pay-as-you-save retrofitting programme which would allow persons to insulate their homes and pay as they save on their energy bills in 2022. [53936/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 22, 38, 78, 212 and 213 together.

The Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan set ambitious targets to retrofit 500,000 homes to a Building Energy Rating of B2/cost optimal or carbon equivalent and to install 400,000 heat pumps in existing buildings over the next 10 years. A new National Residential Retrofit Plan will be published shortly. The Plan will set out measures designed to address barriers to retrofit in four key areas: driving demand and activity; financing and funding; supply chain, skills and standards; and governance. I and my officials have worked with other relevant Government Departments in relation to the development of the Plan. Residential retrofit is also a major focus of the funding provided in the National Development Plan Review. €5 billion of the expected €9.5 billion in additional carbon tax receipts will be invested in energy efficiency and will underpin the National Retrofit Plan.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) residential and community energy efficiency schemes will be a central element of the plan. Budget 2022 commits €202 million in carbon tax revenue to fund these schemes and a further €10 million from the Exchequer for the Solar PV scheme. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage will invest a further €85 million as part of the Social Housing Retrofit Programme in 2022.

A new National Home Retrofit Scheme will be launched in the coming months. The Scheme will support homeowners to achieve deeper (B2) retrofits with heat pumps and will facilitate continuous, year-round working and the multi-year planning which has long been identified as a crucial requirement by the supply chain and homeowners. Information on this scheme will be published at its launch. There are no plans for a national pay-as you save retrofitting scheme for 2022.

My Department is also engaging with Department of Finance and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland in relation to the development of a residential retrofit loan guarantee scheme. The loan guarantee, which is co-funded by the EU, will enable credit institutions to offer loans with reduced interest rates and make comprehensive home energy efficiency upgrades more affordable to consumers. As a result, households will be able to enjoy more comfortable and healthier homes with a lower carbon footprint.

Renewable Energy Generation

Questions (23)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

23. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which he expects the national energy grid to become carbon free through the utilisation of non-fossil fuel electricity generation; the extent of investment in on and offshore wind energy, solar and or biomass; the number of on or offshore or solar energy generation projects currently in hand and capable of supplying the national grid in the next three to seven years; if he anticipates an accelerated programme of investment in wind, solar and biomass sectors in the shortest possible time in order to help to meet emissions guidelines on a progressive basis over the period in question; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52712/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The National Development Plan 2021-2030 sets out a €12.9 billion indicative allocation for my Department which underpins our commitment to achieving a climate neutral, sustainable, and digitally connected Ireland. Our goal is that up to 80% of our electricity will come from renewable generation by the end of the decade. This goal will contribute to Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets by substituting fossil fuel generated electricity for primarily wind and solar electricity generation. The detailed measures and actions to deliver on these emissions targets will be set out in the forthcoming Climate Action Plan.

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is the Government’s flagship programme to deliver on our renewable electricity targets by providing support to renewable electricity projects through competitive auctions. The first RESS 1 projects have now started connecting to the grid and generating renewable electricity.

Last week, I launched the second Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS 2) auction following Government approval. The RESS 2 auction schedule has been accelerated and is now set to open before the end of the year. EirGrid have published the updated auction timetable on their RESS project site. It is anticipated that RESS 2 will deliver an increase of up to 3,500GWh in renewable electricity generation by the end of 2024.

My Department is also developing the first of a series of offshore specific RESS auctions, the terms and conditions of which have been recently published for consultation. Further onshore and at least two further offshore wind auctions are planned this decade to achieve our 2030 targets. I am committed to frequent RESS auctions to deliver an accelerated connection of renewable energy to the grid and an updated indicative roadmap of future auctions will be published by my Department towards the end of the year.

EirGrid are due to shortly finalise their ‘Shaping Our Electricity Future’ strategy, which will inform the policy and regulatory measures required for the development of the national grid to enable achievement of the 2030 renewable electricity target.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (24)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

24. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications when the microgeneration scheme will be in operation; the reason for the delay in introducing this crucial scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53682/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

A Clean Export Guarantee (CEG) tariff represents the first phase of a comprehensive enabling framework for micro-and small-scale generators in Ireland, allowing them to receive remuneration from their electricity supplier for all excess renewable electricity exported to the grid, which reflects the market value of that electricity.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) published a consultation on a draft enabling framework on 1 October which outlines the details for the introduction of the Clean Export Guarantee payment, including eligibility criteria and timescales for introduction. The consultation is now closed. I understand a decision is expected to be published this month, with a compensation regime expected to follow shortly afterwards.

My Department is engaging with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on transposing Articles 21 and 22 of the Recast Renewable Energy Directive into Irish law, which will provide the legal basis for the Clean Export Guarantee. It is expected that this will be completed before year end.

My Department is also developing a final scheme design for the Micro-generation Support Scheme that incorporates the feedback from a public consultation held earlier this year, and subsequent additional analysis. A proposal on the supports to be offered under the Scheme, which may include grants or premium tariff payments for new installations, will be submitted to Government later this year. It is intended that a final scheme design will be published in Q1 2022.

Supports under the Micro-generation Scheme will be introduced on a phased basis, taking account of the need to develop appropriate support mechanisms for relevant cohorts of micro-generators. Timelines for the steps necessary for the phased delivery of the Scheme will be outlined in the 2021 Climate Action Plan, which will be published shortly.

Energy Conservation

Questions (25)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

25. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the progress made towards the Programme for Government commitment to develop new standards to reduce emissions from f-gases and new requirements to make lighting more energy efficient. [53698/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Fluorinated greenhouse gases (‘F-gases’) are a family of man-made gases used in a range of industrial applications such as refrigeration equipment, heat pumps, fire suppression systems and electrical switchgear. Use of F-gases is controlled in Ireland by EU Regulation 517/2014. One of the main aims of this regulation is to cut EU F-gas emissions by two-thirds compared with 2014 levels. To this end, the Commission progressively lowers the quantities of certain F-gases allowed on the market. While the amount of f-gas placed on the market is determined at EU level, we work with a number of key stakeholders to reduce F-gas emissions. We also encourage the adoption of new technology which uses natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide and propane as substitutes for F-gases. The EPA is designated as the competent authority for the F-gas regulations. The EPA carry out inspections of companies involved in handling F-gases and provides guidance for end-users and contractors on the EPA FGas Guidance Page.

The current EU regulation is now under review with a new regulation expected towards the end of 2022. While the Department continues to work with the EPA and other stakeholders, we consider the need for new standards for training or handling when the review is complete.

In relation to lighting, the SEAI Triple E Register of energy efficient equipment, a benchmark register of best in class energy efficiency equipment, is currently under review. Proposals are being made for changes to the eligibility criteria including the criteria for lighting equipment, with a view to ensuring only the most energy efficient lighting products appear on the register. The revised proposals will be the subject of a stakeholder engagement exercise scheduled for this month, through which industry and other interested stakeholders will be asked to participate. The new criteria will be published early in 2022.

Energy Conservation

Questions (26)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

26. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he plans to encourage business and private homes to apply for a BER certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53649/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) are promoting the wider use of, and benefits from, Building Energy Rating (BER) Certificates. Two key approaches helping to drive uptake of BER Certs are the enhancement of the product itself, and, making the BER cert an integral part of the process of building upgrades.

In July, the new BER Advisory Report was launched following several years of development involving my Department, the Department of Housing Local Government & Heritage and the SEAI. The Advisory Report is furnished to the home or building owner along with the BER Certificate. It now provides a personalised roadmap for homeowners on how to upgrade their home. It focuses not just on the present performance of the building but also on its potential for improved performance. It includes information on how to upgrade to a target of a B2 energy rating (or better) and identifies heat pumps as the preferred solution where appropriate.

Government has also committed unprecedented levels of investment in home energy upgrades as part of the National Development Plan Review. This commitment, coupled with the launch of new and enhanced SEAI grant schemes and expansion of the Local Authority Retrofit Programme will make the retrofit sector a year-round industry. The scaling up of retrofit activity coupled with the requirement for pre and post BER assessments in SEAI grant support programmes will also very significantly drive the uptake of BER certificates.

As part of SEAI’s Business Sector programmes the non-domestic BER is promoted as a critical tool for assessing baseline and post-works energy performance of buildings. It’s use is supported via energy audits and educational supports, and is an enabling step in many deeper energy upgrades, including the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat. As BER B is the target for many of these deeper energy upgrades the BER is utilised to demonstrate this requirement.

Further information on the BER Advisory Report and on wider measures to promote BER uptake will be set out in the National Retrofit Plan which will be published shortly.

North-South Interconnector

Questions (27, 58, 62)

Pauline Tully

Question:

27. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the review currently being conducted by his Department into the North-South Interconnector has queried why EirGrid overturned its previous preference of an overhead line for the Kildare-Meath grid upgrade in favour of a 400kV underground cable; if the review has since examined this as a preferable option for the North-South Interconnector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53703/21]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

58. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the engagements he has had with regard to the north-south interconnector since assuming office. [53664/21]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

62. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of a review into the north-south interconnector. [53585/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 58 and 62 together.

The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island Integrated Single Electricity Market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also facilitate the achievement of the goal to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland's economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers. As with any project of such scale and significance, I routinely discuss the project with my officials, colleagues within Government and in other jurisdictions and other interested parties.

The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. Most recently, the key finding from the International Expert Commission's report of October 2018 was that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this critical electricity infrastructure.

Notwithstanding this, I decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. The terms of reference for this study were published on my Department's website on 21 April. On 7 May, my Department initiated a procurement process to appoint an independent expert to undertake the review. International consultants are now engaged on the review and their work is well advanced at this stage. I expect the review will be completed later this year.

I am advised by EirGrid that the North-South Interconnector and the Kildare-Meath Grid upgrade are not comparable as they are two very different projects from a technical standpoint. The North-South Interconnector is almost three times the length of the Kildare-Meath line, which at 50kms is at the distance limit of the technical capability of an underground alternating current line (that is proposed for Kildare-Meath).

Wind Energy Guidelines

Questions (28)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

28. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if his Department has scrutinised the new Wind Energy Development Guidelines in draft format; and when he expects these guidelines to be ratified and in operations. [53435/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in line with the “preferred draft approach” which was announced in June 2017 by the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government in conjunction with the then Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.

As part of the overall review process, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC (the SEA Directive). SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.

As part of the SEA process, the Department of Housing launched a ten-week public consultation on the draft revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines in December 2019. Almost 500 submissions were received as part of the public consultation, many of which were quite detailed and technical in nature. Both Departments have analysed the submissions received and are continuing to work together towards the finalisation of the Guidelines.

The issuance of finalised Guidelines under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, will be a matter for the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (29)

Colm Burke

Question:

29. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the role that his Department is playing in the development of a low-cost loan scheme to support households to undertake retrofitting programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53552/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Programme for Government and the 2019 Climate Action Plan set ambitious targets to upgrade 500,000 homes to a Building Energy Rating of B2/cost optimal or carbon equivalent, and to install 400,000 heat pumps in existing buildings by 2030. These targets represent a very significant increase in both the volume and depth of retrofit activity in Ireland.  

My Department is engaging with the Department of Finance and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland in relation to the development of a residential retrofit loan guarantee scheme. This project has been selected for inclusion in Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The specific features of the scheme as well as its costing are still under development. However, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan estimated the cost at €60 million, inclusive of €40 million from European funding but excluding operational costs.

The part-Exchequer and part-EU funded loan guarantee will provide risk protection to retail credit institutions participating in the scheme. This will enable credit institutions to offer loans with reduced interest rates and make comprehensive home energy efficiency upgrades more affordable to consumers. As a result, households will be able to enjoy more comfortable and healthier homes with a lower carbon footprint.

The loan guarantee is expected to increase the volume of retrofit activity within the State and improve the resilience of the supply chain within the retrofit sector. The scheme will also signal to the banking sector new viable business opportunities associated with the transition to a low carbon economy.

Renewable Energy Generation

Questions (30, 42)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

30. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of community-led renewable energy projects operational in Ireland; the number of community-led renewable energy projects that are planned but not yet operational in Ireland; the number of community-led renewable energy projects whether operational or planned which are included under the renewable energy support scheme; the number which come under any other State-backed scheme broken down by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53508/21]

View answer

Catherine Connolly

Question:

42. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of the RESS-2 scheme; and if there are limitations under the scheme on the number or proportion of renewable energy support scheme projects that can be community-led. [53507/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 42 together.

Community renewable energy projects will make an important contribution to important to delivering up to 80% renewables on the grid by 2030.

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is the main Government support for achieving the 80% target. In RESS 2, details of which I published last week, there will be additional capacity allocated to the community category. However, under the EU state aid approval granted for RESS the community category cannot exceed 2% of the overall RESS capacity.

Prior to RESS there was only one community-led renewable electricity project in operation - Templederry community wind farm in Tipperary. However, the first RESS auction included a dedicated community category in which seven projects have been selected for support, five of which are collaborations with commercial developers. My aim is to ensure the delivery of some 100 fully community-owned renewable electricity generation projects by 2030.

In order to ensure an adequate pipeline of community renewable electricity projects I have allocated further capital funding in Budget 2022 for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to stimulate community energy projects. The funding will enable SEAI to deploy a range of capacity-building supports including an information warehouse, trusted intermediary and advisor services and financial grant supports all of which are vitally important to support this nascent sector.

Renewable Energy Generation

Question No. 32 withdrawn.

Questions (31)

Brian Leddin

Question:

31. Deputy Brian Leddin asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the actions he is taking to ensure that Ireland can harness its vast ocean renewable energy resources to further both Ireland and Europe's decarbonisation agenda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53658/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Ireland’s increased climate and energy ambition is reflected in the Government target to achieve 5 GW of installed offshore wind generation by 2030. There is a further commitment in the Programme for Government to develop a longer-term plan to utilize the potential 30GW of offshore floating wind power in our Atlantic waters.

The 5GW target will be primarily met through development of offshore renewable energy (ORE) in Ireland’s eastern and southern coastal regions. This reflects the suitability of water depths in these regions for deployment of conventional fixed bottom offshore wind turbines and existing electricity grid infrastructure to connect these projects to the onshore grid.

Subsequent cost-effective deployment of renewables in deeper waters off the west coast, to take advantage of stronger and more consistent wind speeds, should be increasingly feasible through future advances in floating turbine technology.

Development of the Maritime Area Planning Bill (MAP) Bill is being led by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, with my Department providing input on provisions specific to ORE. The enactment of this Bill will provide a modern, up-to-date regulatory framework that will enable ORE developments beyond the limits of the current foreshore regime. This Bill is currently at Committee stage in the legislative process, with enactment anticipated by the end of the year.

Work on a revised Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) has also been initiated by my Department. This will provide an evidence base for the identification of areas most suitable for the sustainable development of wind, wave, and tidal technologies, and will include an assessment of other maritime activities and marine biodiversity. The OREDP, in tandem with a planned economic analysis, will set out the path-way for the development of offshore renewable energy beyond 2030.

Question No. 32 withdrawn.
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