Thursday, 11 December 2014
Wind Energy Generation
I thank the Deputy for the question. Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on energy co-operation with the UK Government in January 2013, a joint programme of work was undertaken to consider how Irish renewable energy resources, onshore and offshore, might be developed to the mutual benefit of both Ireland and the UK.
Economic analysis conducted on the Irish side clearly indicates that, under agreed policy and regulatory conditions, renewable energy trading could deliver significant economic benefits to Ireland and the UK, as well as being attractive to developers. However, given the economic, policy and regulatory complexities involved and some key decisions that the UK is not yet in a position to take, delivery by 2020 of renewable energy trading will not be possible.
In the context of a European internal energy market, it would appear that greater trade in energy between Britain and Ireland is likely in the post-2020 scenario. Domestically, onshore wind energy has been the most cost-efficient renewable electricity technology in the Irish market. Detailed analysis by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, and EirGrid found that for 2011, wind generation lowered wholesale prices and offset the costs of the public service obligation levy and other associated costs related to renewable electricity. In addition, the recently published SEAI report on quantifying Ireland's fuel and CO2 emissions savings from renewable electricity in 2012 found that as a result of wind generation, almost 600 kilotonnes of oil equivalent of imported fossil fuels, valued at €180 million, were displaced with a consequent CO2 saving of 1.5 million tonnes valued at €11 million.
Analysis undertaken by the Department, the SEAI, EirGrid and the Commission for Energy Regulation assessed the costs and value of choosing the path towards 40% renewable electricity generation in 2020 compared with a scenario where renewable electricity remained at 2013 levels. This analysis informed a report which the Minister expects to receive and publish shortly.
Separately, the second phase of public consultation on the renewable electricity policy and development framework will commence shortly with the publication of a strategic environmental assessment and appropriate assessment scoping document. The renewable electricity policy and development framework is expected to be completed in 2015.