Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Question 255: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the total electricity production available to the national grid from the alternative energy sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45334/10]
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. This is divided almost evenly between the DSO (Distribution System Operator – ESB Networks) and the TSO (Transmission System Operator – EirGrid). Hydropower contributes about 238 MW of installed capacity and there is 38 MW of biomass, mainly landfill gas.
In addition to the above, there are approximately 120 wind farms that are currently contracted to connect to the transmission system (i.e. they have received and signed a Connection Offer from the relevant system operator) and this equates to approximately 1400 MW. There are 150 wind farms that have received or are due to receive a connection offer before June 2011 as part of the Gate 3 project equating to approximately 90% of the 3900MW in Gate 3.
Generation costs are set on the All-island Single Electricity Market (SEM). The SEM consists of a gross pool market into which all electricity generated or imported onto the island of Ireland must be sold, and from which all wholesale electricity for consumption or export from the island of Ireland must be purchased. In general, conventional generators bid their short run marginal costs into the SEM on a half hourly basis in accordance with the SEM Bidding Code of Practice.
These costs include operating, fuel and carbon costs. These costs may vary on a half hourly basis for each generator and will vary between generators, even those using the same generating method and/or fuel. Fluctuations in the internationally traded price of fossil fuels have a particular impact on costs for fossil fuel generators. All generators, regardless of generation method or fuel type, also receive capacity payments which are designed to cover generators' long run costs as well as to encourage new investment in capacity for security of supply. For all these reasons, there is therefore no single unit cost for a particular generating method.
In relation to alternative generation, there are two main support schemes in place for electricity from renewable sources, both of which are supported via the Public Service Obligations (PSO). AER (the Alternative Energy Requirement scheme) which currently supports around 500MW of renewable generation is a tender scheme that is now being phased out. The new scheme is a feed-in tariff scheme called REFIT which ensures that a minimum price is paid to renewable generators irrespective of the SEM price. There is between 800MW and 1000MW of renewable generation currently in receipt of REFIT payments. There are different reference prices for the various renewable generation technologies supported under REFIT. Essentially the reference prices interact with the market payments and act as floor prices for renewable generation.
REFIT tariffs are currently as follows: - Large Wind: €66.353 per Mega Watt hour - Small Wind: €68.681 per Mega Watt hour - Hydro: €83.814 per Mega Watt hour - Landfill Gas: €81.486 per Mega Watt hour - Biomass: €83.814 per Mega Watt hour
These reference prices are subject to annual increases, if any, in the consumer price index.
In 2009, the terms and conditions were announced for REFIT for additional categories, subject to state aid clearance as follows: - Ocean (wave and tidal): €220 per Mega Watt hour - Offshore wind €140 per Mega Watt hour
These reference prices are not subject to annual increases in the consumer price index.
In May 2010 a revised set of tariffs for the biomass combustion, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) were announced. These reference prices are subject to annual increases, if any, in the consumer price index. These REFIT Tariffs are as follows: - AD CHP >500 kW €150 per Mega Watt hour - AD CHP >500 kW €130 per Mega Watt hour - AD (non CHP) =500kW €110 per Mega Watt hour - AD (non CHP) >500kW €100 per Mega Watt hour - Biomass CHP =1500kW €140 per Mega Watt hour - Biomass CHP >1500kW €120 per Mega Watt hour - Biomass Combustion (including co-firing in existing plant and subject to a change in the Refit terms and conditions to permit this):
- For using energy crops €95 per Mega Watt hour
- For all other biomass €85 per Mega Watt hour.