Public policy supports for peat-fired electricity generation promote energy security of supply, one of the three primary pillars of Irish energy policy.
The overarching objective of the 2015 Energy White Paper and of the 2017 National Mitigation Plan is to transition to a low carbon energy system which provides secure supplies of affordable energy to consumers. This involves transitioning to lower or zero carbon renewable energy technologies. The scheduled removal of government supports from peat-fired generation is line with the White Paper and the Plan.
PSO support for Bord na Móna’s Edenderry peat plant expired in December 2015. PSO support for the two ESB power stations ends in 2019. The Edenderry plant now generates electricity using around 30% renewable biomass. Bord na Móna is to cease harvesting energy peat by 2030.
I would also note that greenhouse gas emissions from power generation, including the peat plants, are regulated by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). Recently agreed reforms to the ETS for the period covering 2021 to 2030 are expected to increase the cost of carbon emissions and incentivise cleaner power generation.
The Government has adopted a range of policy measures and schemes to incentivise the use of renewable energy. The primary support mechanism in the electricity sector is the Renewable Energy Feed-In-Tariff (REFIT) schemes, which support the development of a range of renewable electricity technologies.
My Department is developing a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) to assist Ireland in meeting its renewable energy contributions out to 2030.
I have secured Government approval for the introduction of a Support Scheme for Renewable Heat which is designed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating and other non-domestic heat users in the non-ETS system. The scheme is planned to commence operation later this year subject to State Aid approval.
Additional supports and funding are available via the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), to assist domestic energy consumers improve their energy efficiency. I have secured approximately €107m in capital funding for energy efficiency schemes in 2018, a 34% increase on the 2017 allocation.