Thursday, 28 January 2016
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Renewable Energy Generation Targets
357. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is aware of the grave concerns about the possibility of Ireland missing the 2020 16% renewable energy targets by 4%, which would cost Ireland an estimated €600 million per year in fines; and the steps he is taking to meet these targets. [3608/16]
358. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is aware of concerns that his Department requires additional resources, particularly human resources, to ensure the successful adoption of renewable energy into our economy, which is without doubt a substantial but necessary task for environmental reasons and for the avoidance of fines, the financial resources for which could be much better directed elsewhere. [3609/16]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 357 and 358 together.
While the precise cost of any shortfall in Ireland's target of 16% has yet to be established, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has estimated that the cost to Ireland may be in the range of €100 million to €150 million for each percentage point Ireland falls short of the overall 16% renewable energy target.
The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive set Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020 and in order to meet this target, Ireland is committed to meeting 40% of electricity demand from renewable sources, 12% renewables in the heating sector and 10% in transport. The Government has adopted a range of support measures designed to meet our binding target, and although good progress towards our target has been made to date, meeting the 16% target remains challenging.
In the electricity sector, the primary support mechanisms introduced for renewable electricity, are the Alternative Energy Requirement (AER) schemes and the Renewable Energy Feed-In-Tariff (REFIT) schemes. These schemes have proved successful at incentivising the development of the renewable electricity generation capacity necessary to meet our 40% renewable electricity target, and in 2014 SEAI has calculated that 22.7% of electricity demand was met by renewable sources.
In the heating sector, my Department is working on the introduction of a new Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to support the deployment of renewable energy in the sector. The primary aim of the RHI is to build on the progress already made in heating and to help reach our 12% target by 2020. In 2014 it is estimated that 6.6% of heat was derived from renewable sources.
In the transport sector Ireland aims to meet our renewable target mainly through the increased use of sustainable biofuels, with electric vehicles also making a small contribution. In 2014, 5.2% of our energy needs in the transport sector were met from renewable sources.
The Energy White Paper, Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future, published in December last, sets out a vision for transforming Ireland's fossil-fuel based energy sector into a clean, low carbon system by 2050. Over the coming period the increasing focus of my Department will be on implementation of the range of actions set out in the White Paper that are aimed at meeting our energy and climate change targets.