Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 15 November 2023

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Future Licences and Contracts to Connect Data Centres to the Gas Network: Discussion

Mr. Jim Gannon:

On the first part of the question – Ms Donnelly might clarify – the Climate Change Advisory Council gives us a pathway to our 2050 target outlined in the climate Act. What then follows is budgets every five years that show us what that pathway should mean. That gives us the number of carbon tonnes we are allowed to spend, if I can put it that way. National policy is then developed to serve that purpose and to give us targets. An example on the energy demand side is that there is a national flexibility target in the climate action plan for 30% of demand to be flexible by 2030. When that policy is then set, we get an action that says let us put together an energy demand strategy that achieves that purpose. Before the climate action plan for 2023 was put together we had discussions with the Department about an energy demand strategy. On the smaller scale, the residential consumer side, it was reasonably well known what might get us there, in that smart meters would come about and people would electrify their heating and transportation. They need to know and understand how to move and change their demand, whether it is from a price signal or through an understanding of how carbon intensive things are. Some people would be very active. They would see something on their phone and they would decide to turn something on or off. For others, it would be something automated. It might take two or three years to come in but that would be more automatic. There was a real gap in terms of larger energy users, whereby the level of flexibility they could provide had not really been tapped, pressed, or facilitated. It had not been incentivised, either through positive incentivisation, saying we would give them a bonus or a premium, or through negative incentivisation and saying "You can't do that unless you bring this service to the table". That is an example of where a carbon budget would be set, national policy is set, and then we follow through with something that seeks to join the dots.

On the updates, I see the Climate Change Advisory Council then considers how things have changed, where our baseline is now and where we need to be next time around. I do not want to go into that as it pertains to the Climate Change Advisory Council.

I thank the Senator for bringing up district heating. I will hand over to my colleague, Dr. Hemmingway.