Tuesday, 27 March 2007
Question 80: To ask the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will bring forward a micro-generation strategy in the context of recently released figures that indicate there are just 21 micro-generation units connected to the energy system here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11337/07]
Question 379: To ask the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the extent to which he expects or intends micro-generation to play a part in meeting electricity requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11556/07]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 379 together.
The White Paper on energy policy commits to the completion of a comprehensive cost benefit review next year of the potential for distributed generation and the implications for the networks as a long-term alternative or supplement to the existing centralised system. My Department is working with Sustainable Energy Ireland, SEI, the Commission for Energy Regulation, CER, ESB Networks and the Electro-Technical Council of Ireland to put in place the appropriate administrative, technical and safety standards and practices to underpin the widespread deployment of micro-generation technologies. The objective is to develop appropriate solutions suited to the context of the electricity grid and for non-grid connected technologies with a view to progressing this emerging sector.
SEI has undertaken work on metering options for small-scale renewable and CHP electricity generation. The study identified several areas which require further analysis including the ability of such processes to secure adequate payment for their exports, a review of connection standards and processes for smaller generators and the implications of the single electricity market for small-scale electricity generation.
CER has issued a consultation paper on micro-generation with a view to establishing appropriate administrative and technical mechanisms. This paper discusses the technical standards to apply to such generators, the installation process for micro-generators, and the metering and commercial arrangements for such generators. A separate consultation paper on authorisation and licensing of small-scale generators has also been published by CER, with a view to establishing a simplified authorisation process for small-scale generators including micro-generators. These consultations should lead to more simplified processes appropriate to micro-generation.
Informed by SEI's pilot project of 200 houses in the Dundalk energy zone and the full technical and economic review under way by CER, ESB Networks and SEI, I will decide by the end of 2007 on the roll-out and funding of a national five-year programme to install smart meters for all householders in new and existing housing stock. This will facilitate grid connection of micro-renewable energy sources.
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has recently introduced new regulations that amend the exempted development provisions of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. These amendments permit the installation of solar panels, wind turbines and other micro-renewable energy sources, without planning permission, in certain circumstances.
As I watched the last 20 minutes of the Taoiseach's rant last Saturday night, I thought he would make a good leader of the next Opposition. The Government has been a failure in this area. Ten years ago, renewable energy sources came to 2% of overall energy resources, and that has remained so. Micro-generation, which is not even referred to in the White Paper, is an example of this failure.