Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Alternative Energy Projects
Question 254: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number, location and progress of the various alternative energy projects both at research, development and operational level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45333/10]
There are 1776 megawatts (MW) of installed generating plant harnessing alternative energy technologies connected to the Irish national grid. The total number of wind farms connected is approximately 122 and this represents a generation capacity of about 1500 MW. Hydropower consists of 66 projects and contributes about 238 MW of installed capacity. There are 14 biomass projects, mainly landfill gas, which contribute 38 MW of installed capacity. This information, including a full list of connected and contracted generators and their locations, is available on the EirGrid website at www.eirgrid.com.
There are 150 wind farms that have received or are due to receive a connection offer before June 2011 as part of the Commission for Energy Regulation's Gate 3 grid connection programme for renewable energy, equating to around 90% of the 3900MW in Gate 3. The CER designed Gate 3 specifically to meet Ireland's national renewable target of 40% of electricity supplied from renewable sources by 2020. A full list of Gate 3 projects and locations is available in the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) Direction to System Operators (CER/08/260) available at www.cer.ie.
On January 29th EirGrid published the Gate 3 Firm Access Quantities. This document details the potential levels of firm network access available in the electricity grid for each Gate 3 project for each year up to 2023. This information is provided as part of the Gate 3 Connection Offer Process and is available on the EirGrid website. Beyond Gate 3 there is 11,850MW seeking a grid connection. The CER, which has the statutory responsibility in this area, has not issued any direction in relation to the processing of these applications to date. Since 2002, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has administered a renewable energy Research, Development and Demonstration Programme. The programme is primarily focused on stimulating the deployment of renewable energy technologies that are close to market, and on assessing the development of technologies that have prospects for the future.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) are currently also running a microgeneration pilot programme involving various renewable energy technologies in locations around the country. The Ocean Energy Development Unit in SEAI is administering a Prototype Development Fund to industry in the ocean energy sphere. It is also involved with the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre on the National Wave Tank Facility in Cork, with the Marine Institute in the Galway Bay ocean energy test site and SmartBay project and are taking forward development of a grid connected full scale wave test site off County Mayo.
The development of the biomass sector has seen strong progress in recent months, building on the early foundations laid by the Greener Homes and Reheat schemes. Bord na Móna continue to co-fire large volumes of biomass – up to 100,000 tonnes in 2010, and there has recently been several announcements from industry related to planned large scale private sector biomass projects. In Transport, the Biofuels Obligation has been in place since July, and reached the 4% penetration rate for the first 3 months of operation. A significant proportion of these biofuels were produced in Ireland.