Thursday, 22 March 2012
Finance Bill 2012 (Certified Money Bill): Committee and Remaining Stages
Michael Noonan (Minister, Department of Finance; Limerick City, Fine Gael)
Section 25 extends the qualifying period in regard to section 486B, which deals with relief for investment in renewable energy generation. The scheme was due to expire on 31 December 2011 but has been extended to 31 December 2014. The scheme was originally set up in 1999 and it has the approval of the European Commission. My colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, is in favour of the continuation of the scheme. He argues that it contributes to a supportive environment for renewable energy to develop at a relatively low cost. Ireland has legal commitments under EU directives to achieve a 16% target for renewable energy by 2020. I believe we are currently at 6%.
I would be inclined to share some of the concerns expressed by Senator Barrett that the great dream of moving to renewable energy in Ireland does not seem to have been realised. The kind of progress that many people who were painting the dream in primary colours were hoping for does not seem to have been achieved.
I was in France for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities and when meeting investors I came across a very interesting project. It is turbines that are being manufactured by an engineering company in Dundalk that are activated by tidal action. The company has developed these and done a deal with a company in Brittany to put three of them under water on the coast of Brittany. It is the coming tide that turns the turbine. Depending on the strength of the tide extra output can be achieved but even with normal tides they seem to be viable. Any Member who has ever travelled along that coast west of Mont Saint Michel will know that the tides come in long distances very rapidly and they are trying it out there.