I propose to take Questions Nos. 262 and 263 together.
The review of the security and sustainability of energy in Ireland is on-going in my Department. As part of this review I have already sought the input from the State energy organisations on the challenges involved. The technical analysis for the review will be conducted by independent consultants to be commissioned following a public procurement exercise. The full terms of reference for this technical analysis of energy security and sustainability are being finalised. As I recently advised the House, I expect the terms of reference will be finalised in early 2020; a public consultation process may form part of the review process.
The review into Ireland's energy security and sustainability will:
- Consider the optimal actions that need to be taken, in reaching 70% renewable electricity, to ensure Ireland's electricity system is backed up in a secure, safe and sustainable way.
- Assess the role of gas during the transition, as the lowest CO2 emitting fossil fuel, and consider how and from where it is sourced.
- Review the role that other technologies can play in the transition, including battery storage, pumped storage, the role of interconnection (both gas and electricity) and the possibilities for hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
- Consider what the roadmap for renewable electricity looks like in the period from 2030 to achieving carbon neutrality in 2050.
With regard to the Deputy’s concerns regarding any conflict of interest by State Bodies, the normal process of policy development and formulation is through engagement with stakeholders, which includes State Agencies and Bodies having statutory responsibility in relation to energy security. In relation to any investments in energy projects by State bodies under the aegis of my Department that may materialise as a result of the review, these will be evaluated, where Ministerial consent is required, in the context of Government policy, including from security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability perspectives.
In relation to energy efficiency, it is universally accepted that the first step towards security of supply and reduced emissions is to reduce the amount of energy used. Actions set out in the Climate Action Plan, which I launched in July, include the energy efficiency of buildings, including the upgrading of 500,000 homes to B2 rating, the delivery of efficient district heating systems, and the reduction in car journeys through better planning, better public transport and promoting home working, all of which are directed towards the efficient use of energy. The Plan also provides for 70% electricity from renewable sources, for 400,000 heat pumps, and for 950,000 electric vehicles by 2030.
The review will have regard to the Climate Action Plan and other relevant information. The outcome of the review will feed into the formulation of future policy on the security and sustainability of our energy systems and structures.