Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 20 September 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
Third Report of the Citizens' Assembly: Engagement with Ms Marie Donnelly
I welcome Ms Donnelly and thank her for providing a comprehensive document. She has already answered my question on offshore wind energy. In her written submission to the Citizens' Assembly she stated, "It is essential ... that Government informs the population of the policy direction for Ireland" We have waited years for guidelines in respect of wind and solar energy production. I would like to hear her thoughts on the fact that we have not had these recommendations. There are many unknowns, especially in terms of solar energy. When people see planning applications for solar farms they do not understand what is involved and are fearful. Does Ms Donnelly believe it is important that we have clear guidelines regarding wind and solar energy farms?
In the submission to which I refer Ms Donnelly also stated, "heating our homes represents almost half of our energy consumption, this is a priority area". If we are serious about climate change, we will have to start with home heating.
Ms Donnelly further stated that 88% of housing units here "were constructed before energy efficiency standards were required" and that "almost 1.5 million homes still need to be retrofitted." She clearly stated that even at a 3% retrofit rate per annum "it would take 33 years to upgrade all of our homes". That is a long period.
At our meeting a couple of weeks ago, we heard from the ESRI about the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, grant scheme. The ESRI conducted a comprehensive study with a sample of over 160,000 applications. It was interesting to note that the highest number of applications by far were relating to cavity insulation and attic insulation, which shows that people cannot afford to fit pumps or solar panels. We need to tease out these matters and I would like to hear Ms Donnelly's thoughts on them. Obviously, as she stated, the Government cannot afford to retrofit every house but it supplies 35% of the cost for installing a higher grade retrofit. I imagine that more people would apply for the scheme if more money was made available for retrofitting homes.