Electricity Generation

Ceisteanna (246)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

246. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the degree to which electricity generation remains reliant on fossil fuels in totality or in part; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3668/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Energy in Ireland 2018 Report was published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in December 2018. Details of the proportions of electricity generated from oil, gas, coal, wind, solar or other renewable sources are available in Table 8 “Growth rates, quantities and shares of electricity generated by fuel” on page 29 of the report. The report sets out the progress that Ireland has made in reducing reliance on fossil fuels for transport, heating and electricity production. In 2017, as Ireland’s economy grew by 7.2% as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) or 3% as measured by gross national income (GNI), whereas energy use increased by 0.5%. The report also states that renewable energy use grew by 52% between 2013 and 2017. Notwithstanding this, over 90% of all energy used, including transport, in Ireland in 2017 was from fossil fuels.

There are no specific international requirements on the composition of electricity generation in the fuel mix. The EU Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC set Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. Ireland is committed to achieving this target through meeting 40% of electricity demand, 12% of heat and 10% of transport from renewable sources of energy. SEAI analysis states that 10.6% of Ireland's overall energy requirements in 2017 were met from renewable sources. This avoided 4.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and €439 million of fossil fuel imports. Ireland achieved 30.1% of electricity, 6.9% of heat and 7.4% of transport energy requirements using renewable energy sources in 2017.

Renewable Energy Generation

Ceisteanna (247, 248, 250)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

247. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which electricity generation by alternative means such as wind, solar, hydro, wave, anaerobic digesters or other non-fossil means has grown to replace fossil fuel generation in the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3669/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

248. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which electricity generation needs are met through alternative non-fossil energy generation; the extent to which such generation is adequate or inadequate to meet national grid requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3670/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

250. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount of wind, hydro and solar-generated electricity that is available and admitted to the national grid on a daily basis; the extent to which the stability of the grid remains constant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3673/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 247, 248 and 250 together.

The Energy in Ireland 2018 Report was published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in December 2018. Table 11 (Page 34) shows that the share of electricity from renewable energy has increased fourfold between 2005 and 2017 – from 7.2% to 30.1% - an increase of 23 percentage points over 12 years. Table 11 also shows how electricity production from wind energy has increased to the point where it accounted for 84% of the renewable electricity generated in 2017. Electricity generated from biomass accounted for 8% of renewable electricity in 2017. Biomass consists of contributions from solid biomass, landfill gas, the renewable portion of waste and other biogas (including anaerobic digestion). Renewable electricity (or non-fossil fuel) generation accounted for 30.1% of gross electricity consumption in 2017. SEAI does not have any preliminary data for the year 2018 yet.

Wind, hydro and solar photovoltaic (PV) generated electricity in 2017, respectively, accounted for 25.2%, 2.4% and 0.04% of Ireland’s gross electricity consumption. Wave energy technology is still at the Research, Development and Demonstration stage globally. Tidal energy is a little closer to commercialisation.

Details in relation to All-Island electricity system demand and fuel mix are publicly available on the EirGrid website at http://www.eirgridgroup.com/. This includes information on the number, type and generating capacity of plants on the system. EirGrid’s report titled “All-Island Generation Capacity Statement” (Pages 12 and 13) gives details of the fuel mix (2017) from different energy sources for both Ireland and Northern Ireland. Regarding grid stability, EirGrid are progressing plans for further cross border interconnection and initiatives that encourage flexibility such as the DS3 programme that support integration of more intermittent generation sources.

The total amount of renewable generation connected to the grid at November 2018 was 3,938MW, of which wind generation was approximately 3,610MW, hydro was 238MW and biomass was 91MW. Eirgrid estimates that a total of between 3,900MW and 4,300MW of onshore renewable generation capacity will be required to allow Ireland to achieve 40% renewable electricity by 2020.

In regard to projected electricity needed for the next five and ten years, EirGrid have projected a number of scenarios in the publication titled “Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2017 – Planning our Energy Future” (July 2017).

Renewable Energy Generation Targets

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 247.

Ceisteanna (249)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

249. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which the existing electricity generating stations dependent on fossil fuels have been restricted or otherwise stood down in the past 12 months with a view to bringing emissions into line with international standards and targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3671/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government’s commitment to reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term is set out in the 2017 National Mitigation Plan, the 2015 Energy White Paper and recently published National Energy and Climate Plan. In the electricity sector, which accounts for less than one fifth of Ireland's overall emissions, we have made good progress and are well on our way to our target of 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Ireland's commitment is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector by at least 80% by 2050. As energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are linked, meeting this objective requires a radical transformation of Ireland’s energy system from being predominantly fossil fuel based to a clean, low carbon energy system. As set out in the Energy Policy White Paper, a low-carbon future involves moving away from high-emissions fuels in electricity generation to lower emissions fuels such as gas, and ultimately away from fossil fuels altogether. This policy is fully aligned with EU policy objectives of decarbonisation in the electricity sector.

On the way to achieving this low-carbon future, it is settled policy that Moneypoint will cease burning coal by 2025, and the three peat-fired electricity generating stations in th Midlands will cease burning peat before 2030. All three plants have been awarded support for biomass combustion under the REFIT3 Scheme for up to 30% of the installed capacity up to 2030. Bord na Móna commenced co-firing at its Edenderry Plant with biomass in 2008, and it is expected that ESB will commence co-firing at its 2 peat fired plants with biomass in 2020, subject to the plants receiving planning permission.

In relation to electricity generating stations being restricted in the past twelve months on the basis of their levels of GHG emissions, all fossil fuel based stations participate under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which is a system designed to reduce emissions and provides a strong incentive to decarbonise the manner in which these installations produce electricity. EU ETS carbon prices have been on average over €20 per tonne since August 2018. As the carbon price rises even further, these installations become less economically viable, and incentivises companies to move to lower GHG emitting technologies, including renewable generation.

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 247.

Electricity Generation

Ceisteanna (251)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

251. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the daily requirement of electricity generated and available to the domestic and industrial markets without restriction; the extent to which this is compliant with public service obligations such as the need to ensure continuity of supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3674/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Electricity Security of Supply Report 2018 published by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities on 8 November 2018, points to peak daily system electricity demand in Ireland recorded during 2017 was close to, but slightly higher than, 5GW. The full report is available on the CRU website: https://www.cru.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/CRU18122-Electricity-Security-of-Supply-Report-2018.pdf As the Deputy is aware, the PSO levy has been in place since 2001 and consists of a set of support schemes designed to facilitate national electricity policy objectives for renewables, indigenous fuels and security of supply. It has successfully delivered on these objectives, with a total amount of renewable generation connected to the electricity grid of 3,938 Mega Watts (MW) in November 2018, the vast majority of which was comprised of onshore wind generation.

The Generation Capacity Statement published annually by EirGrid provides a forecast of expected electricity demand and the level of generation capacity that will be required on the island over the next ten years, using a range of scenarios. Under a median demand forecast, EirGrid currently anticipates Ireland’s total electricity requirement peak will exceed 6.5 GW by 2026. This data is used to plan for future electricity generation adequacy, security of supply, and associated network enhancements. The latest Generation Capacity Statement, entitled the “ All-Island Generation Capacity Statement 2018-2027”, is available on the EirGrid website:

http://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/Generation_Capacity_Statement_2018.pdf.

Telecommunications Services Data

Ceisteanna (252, 253)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

252. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the degree to which his Department, directly or through the Commission for Communications Regulation, can monitor the quality and extent of mobile phone coverage nationally comparable with the quality of service available in other European countries; if particular deficiencies have been identified in this regard; the nature of actions pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3675/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

253. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if particular investigations have been undertaken with a view to ensuring the availability of adequate quality and scale of mobile telephony nationally; his plans to improve identified blackspots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3676/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 252 and 253 together.

Providing telecommunications services, including mobile phone services, is a matter for the relevant service providers operating in a fully liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), as independent Regulator. I do not have statutory authority to require commercial companies to rollout services and make specific investments in particular locations.

With regard to mobile telephony service quality in other countries, comparisons between Member States and within regions can be problematic for many reasons, including the fact that the technical characteristics of mobile phone networks determining coverage and capacity will vary between operators and locations. Other factors include the characteristics of individual markets, including topography, population density, frequencies used etc.

The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce produced a report in December 2016, available on my Department's website, containing 40 actions to alleviate telecommunications networks coverage deficits. An Implementation Group is overseeing implementation of the actions and comprises all key stakeholders responsible for delivery.

My Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development published the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Review 2017 on 21 February 2018, which comprehensively outlines the progress made in 2017 on the Taskforce actions. Of the 40 actions, 29 had been completed, with work on the remaining 11 carrying into the 2018 Work Programme. Following close engagement with stakeholders at the inaugural National Stakeholder Forum 2017, 23 new measures were identified for delivery in 2018. The outcome of discussions at the second Annual National Stakeholder Forum held in October 2018 informed preparation of the 2018 Annual Review report which will be published shortly together with the 2019 Work Programme.

Some of the Taskforce's key achievements to date in addressing mobile phone coverage issues include:

- Work by my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development to achieve a greater consensus around site selection for telecoms infrastructure and therefore improve mobile phone coverage.

- Both Departments are working with a pilot group of local authorities to identify the issues associated with mapping local blackspots. This pilot exercise has been completed, with all local authorities having been asked to map local blackspots and identify infrastructure that could potentially be used to provide additional coverage on an economic basis.

- Establishment of a focus group to provide guidance with respect on categories of location where high quality reliable mobile coverage should be made available as a priority. The focus group report was published on my Department's website on 31 August 2018. It is anticipated that the output of the focus group should influence the actions of the mobile network operators in their work to reduce mobile phone blackspots, as well as informing future policy in my Department with regard to priorities for mobile phone services.

- Work underway by a working group which is investigating the feasibility of developing standardised policy for accessing and utilising State and publicly-owned assets for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure.

- ComReg is delivering a composite national coverage map, which will, in tandem with its work on handset testing and activities to raise consumer awareness, allow people across Ireland to optimise the service available to them.

- Development by ComReg of a licensing scheme enabling households and businesses to use mobile phone repeaters to boost signals into their premises and bring immediate improvements in mobile coverage.

ComReg is providing expert advice to the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce and has committed to implementing a number of actions designed to improve the service experience of mobile phone users. In late 2016, in accordance with its strategic plan and in alignment with taskforce actions, the Regulator commenced several projects to gain greater understanding of factors affecting mobile user experience, including the effect of building materials on indoor coverage.

In 2017 ComReg published the results of a survey, the first of its kind in Ireland, investigating Irish people's experience and perceptions of their mobile phone service. The survey involved over 2,800 face-to-face interviews and to ensure that the experience of those in rural areas were captured, the survey sampled a higher percentage of those living in less densely populated parts of the country. The full report can be found on ComReg's website at www.comreg.ie/publications.

In tandem with the work of the Taskforce, the release by ComReg of the 3.6GHz radio spectrum band, which has been identified at EU level as a primary band suitable for 5G rollout, will also contribute to addressing increasing mobile data demands and improve mobile coverage. Mobile operators' commercial investment has also resulted in improved services, following ComReg's 2012 multi-band spectrum auction. at least one operator has now in excess of 90% 4G population coverage.

All of these initiatives should help enhance the quality of mobile phone and data services, particularly in rural areas.

National Car Test

Ceisteanna (254)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

254. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there have been policy changes or changes to the way in which the national car test, NCT, is conducted in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3465/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The governing legislation for the National Car Test is provided by the Road Traffic (National Car Test) Regulations 2017 - S.I. No. 415 of 2017.  These Regulations came into operation on 20 May 2018 (with the exception of Regulation 3(9)(a) that comes into operation on 1 January 2020) and revoked the Road Traffic (National Car Test) Regulations 2014 - S.I. No. 322 of 2014.

The main changes introduced to the National Car Test in 2018 are:

- Mutual recognition of valid Certificates of Roadworthiness issued by the competent authorities of other Member States;

- Deficiencies categorised into minor, major and dangerous;

- Cars aged between 30 and 40 years old tested biennially. 

National Car Test Data

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (255)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

255. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the first time pass rate in each national car test, NCT, centre nationally in each of the years 2015 to 2018, in tabular form. [3466/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The operation of the National Car Testing Service is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority.  I have therefore referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A