I propose to take Questions Nos. 510 and 511 together.
The National Mitigation Plan, published in July 2017, restates the Government’s commitment to move from a fossil fuel-based electricity system to a low-carbon power system. Investment in further renewable generation will be incentivised. The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, approved by Government in July 2018, will provide for a renewable electricity ambition of 55% by 2030, subject to determining the cost effective level which will be set out in the National Energy and Climate Plan. Currently, 30% of our electricity is generated from renewable energy sources.
I have secured Government approval to develop an all of Government plan which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. This Plan will include the steps which we must take in order to achieve this and I am working with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives across electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors.
In all projected transitions to a low carbon economy by 2050, gas will continue to play a role. It plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power generation, industrial and commercial, residential and transport sectors by replacing more CO2-intensive fossil fuels. In Ireland, gas powered generation also provides an important back-up for intermittent renewable wind generation.
So while gas usage will reduce significantly in the years ahead, Ireland will still need secure sources of gas. At present this is provided by both gas piped on shore from Irish gas fields and imports through gas pipelines from the UK.
The development of an LNG facility could further enhance Ireland’s gas security of supply by increasing import route diversity and would be compatible with the State’s commitments to tackle climate change.
Ireland’s energy policy is fully aligned with the EU’s climate and energy objectives on the transition to decarbonisation, which includes continuous and ongoing review of policies to reduce harmful emissions, improve energy efficiency, incentivise efficient and sustainable infrastructure investment, integrate markets, and promote research and innovation while ensuring our energy security of supply is maintained and enhanced.
The project to which the Deputy refers is a private commercial project. Final investment decisions for the project and compliance with any legal and regulatory requirements in relation to consents or permits are the responsibility of the project promoter.
I am informed that in August 2018 Shannon LNG announced it had entered into an agreement with New Fortress Energy to develop the proposed LNG terminal project at Ballylongford. I understand that my Department was notified on 23 August that a press release on this would be issued on the next day. On 21 November 2018, at the request of Shannon LNG, officials from my Department met with representatives of Shannon LNG and New Fortress Energy. The purpose of this meeting was to introduce New Fortress Energy.
In relation to the production, sourcing, buying and selling of natural gas produced outside this jurisdiction, this is an operational matter for the undertakings involved. Any undertaking would be required to comply with EU law in this area.