Written answers

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Renewable Energy Generation Issues

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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3. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the transformation needed of Ireland’s economy from one based on imported fossil fuel to a low-carbon economy using renewable energy and energy efficiency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24804/14]

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South West, Labour)
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The EU has set a goal of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050. Under the Government’s planned Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, which was recently published, those sectors of the economy with significant carbon emissions are required to produce plans to lower these emissions. The Bill and the associated National Policy Position, which were recently published, envisage Ireland aiming to achieve at least an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions in aggregate across the electricity generation, transport and built environment sectors by 2050. A National Low Carbon Roadmap for how these reductions will be achieved will be approved by Government and published in 2014. Achieving such a reduction in CO2 emissions will be very difficult. The Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent report on greenhouse gas emissions projections shows that there is significant risk, even under the best case scenario, that Ireland will not meet its 2020 targets and that we face considerable challenges to becoming a low carbon economy. Late last year I published a scoping report on a low carbon roadmap for the electricity generation sector and undertook a public consultation on the matter. Over the coming months my Department will continue to work on evaluating options that can lower emissions from electricity generation while maintaining economic competitiveness and ensuring that everyone can afford to heat and power their homes.

The first milestone towards achieving a low carbon economy by 2050 is the delivery of the 2020 targets set by the EU and the corresponding national targets. Ireland has a requirement to achieve a binding target of 16% of energy demand coming from renewable sources. Currently, over 7% of Ireland’s energy now comes from renewables and this includes 20% of electricity demand.

Ireland has also set a challenging target of delivering 20% energy efficiency savings by 2020, with a 33% target for the public sector. This will reduce our CO2 emissions by approximately 5.7 million tonnes, saving some €1.6 billion per annum in avoided energy costs. The National Energy Efficiency Action Plan sets out in detail the actions that will be taken to achieve this goal.

Negotiations are now getting underway on the Climate and Energy Framework 2030 published by the European Commission in January of this year. The current EU proposals foresee a reduction of 40% Greenhouse Gas emissions and an increase in renewable energy to 27% across the EU. While Ireland is supportive of a high level of ambition, our contribution must be based on an approach that is equitable, cost efficient and technically feasible.

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