Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Ceisteanna (67)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

67. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a time-limited grace period will be applied to REFIT 2; if REFIT 3 will be extended to relevant wind and solar projects; and if not, the estimated increase in EU non-compliance costs and penalties to be met by the State for failing to reach its EU 2020 renewable electricity commitment by an even larger amount. [14174/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The REFIT 2 and REFIT 3 schemes closed to new applications in 2015 in line with the relevant EU state aid notifications and any new aid granted must comply with the EU State Aid Guidelines for Environment and Energy 2014-2020.

A number of extensions to both the REFIT 2 and REFIT 3 deadlines were granted in recent years. Following examination of relevant evidence including consumer electricity costs, I decided in February not to grant a request for a further extension to the REFIT 2 deadlines.

It is vitally important that Government does not crowd out private sector investment through extending subsidy schemes particularly at a time when corporate contracting of renewable energy is becoming an increasing feature of the global energy transformation. Corporate power purchase agreements should provide an alternative route to market for competitive renewable electricity projects.

The Department is working closely with ESB Networks, EirGrid and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to ensure that scheduled renewable electricity projects are connected as soon as possible to the electricity grid and that the current deadlines are met in order to maximise their contribution to the 2020 renewable energy targets.

I am currently focused on the preparation of an all of government Climate Action Plan which will provide for a substantial step up in our climate ambition for 2030 and any shortfall in meeting Ireland's 2020 targets would likely to be more economically met through the EU cooperation mechanisms or through other routes to market than supporting projects through the REFIT schemes.

Any requirement for statistical transfer purchase will be undertaken against a background of discussions with the EU Commission and relevant member states. As any purchases arising would be made over a number of years, the costs to the Exchequer of acquiring statistical transfers to meet any potential shortfall would be spread over a period of time and in any event the cumulative costs would not be known until 2021, the deadline for completion of all purchases.

While contingency planning has commenced in the Department, the focus remains firmly on meeting our 2020 renewable targets and on the implementation of existing and new renewable energy measures.