Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
950. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the action he is taking to ensure better home energy savings from investment in home energy efficiency schemes; the measures being implemented on foot of the report from the European Court of Auditors on the use of EU finance for energy efficiency programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7000/20]
My Department funds a number of SEAI grant schemes to help homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. Since 2000, approximately 400,000 homeowners have upgraded their homes with support from these schemes. This has resulted in warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes that are easier to heat and light. Approximately €120 million has been allocated to residential and community energy efficiency schemes in 2020. The SEAI and Department monitor the impact of the schemes on an ongoing basis.
A recently published audit conducted by the European Court of Auditors assessed whether EU co-funded energy efficiency investments in buildings, including under Ireland’s Warmer Homes Scheme, had cost-effectively helped the EU toward its 2020 energy saving target. The primary aim of the Warmer Homes Scheme is to address energy poverty by delivering energy efficiency measures to those homeowners deemed to be in, or at risk of, such poverty. The programme delivers many benefits to homeowners including improved comfort, quality of life, and health. Since 2000, the scheme has provided upgrades to over 142,000 homes across Ireland, improving the lives of some of Ireland’s most vulnerable citizens. The Scheme underwent a significant change in mid-2018, expanding to include more extensive measures, including external wall insulation which is now funded under the scheme. This has resulted in deeper retrofits and greater energy savings for homeowners. In 2018, 77% of homes upgraded under the scheme saw at least one energy consumption classification change.
It is important to note that the scope of the Court of Auditors report addresses EU funding of the scheme over the period 2014-2018 in terms of energy efficiency only and not other benefits such as energy poverty reductions, which is the primary aim of the scheme. Furthermore,the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is currently undertaking a social impact assessment of the SEAI’s energy poverty schemes, including the Warmer Homes Scheme.
The Climate Action Plan sets an ambitious target of 500,000 energy efficiency retrofits by 2030. Achievement of this target will be supported by the Project Ireland 2040 allocation of €3.7 billion as well as the range of measures identified in the Plan. To deliver our target, a Retrofit Taskforce has been established which will develop a plan to implement a new retrofitting delivery model. The target for development of the plan is Q3 2020. The audit findings will be considered in the context of the reform and development of energy efficiency schemes.