Thursday, 14 October 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
85. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the policy position of his Department in relation to the storage of electricity particularly that generated from renewable sources; if he has a specific position on encouraging the development of pumped hydro storage as an integral part of improving the robustness the national grid and as a means of storing excess renewable energy that may arise from wind turbines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50240/21]
With the Government’s commitment of increasing the electricity it generates from renewables by up to 80 per cent by 2030, a coordinated programme of investment in grid-scale renewable electricity generation and storage will be essential to ensure security of supply.I am acutely aware of the critical role of energy storage in supporting a green energy system through appropriate market investment signals. My Department is developing rules on how hybrid renewable storage projects may be facilitated to participate in the second Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction, the terms and conditions of which are currently being finalised.
The need for more energy storage is recognised in the Programme for Government, which includes a commitment to strengthen the policy framework to incentivise electricity storage, as well as interconnection. The 2021 Climate Action Plan which I will shortly bring to Government will set out further actions to address energy storage. The development of electricity storage in Ireland, including pumped hydro, will also continue to be facilitated through designation of EU Project of Common Interest (PCI) status, as provided for by the EU TEN-E Regulation.
86. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his interpretation of directive 2003/54/EC and the classification of pumped hydropower storage systems such as Turlough Hill as electricity generation facilities; if engagement has occurred with the European Commission on reclassifying facilities such as these as grid infrastructure that act as batteries or strategic services for the purposes of the grid operator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50241/21]
Directive 2003/54/EC formed part of the EU’s Second Energy Package and was repealed by Directive 2009/72/EC, which in turn was recast by Directive (EU) 2019/944 (Electricity Directive) as part of the EU’s Clean Energy Package. The issue of the classification or reclassification of electricity generation facilities arises in various contexts, and, as such, there are a number of possibilities that could be the focus of the deputy’s question.
The classification referred to by the Deputy may refer to the regulatory licensing regime. Under section 14(1) of the Electricity Regulation Act, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has the sole statutory function to issue licences to, inter alia, any person to generate electricity or to carry out other electricity market functions, such as discharging the functions of grid operation. The CRU is the independent regulator in Ireland, and is accountable to the Oireachtas for the performance of its functions.
The subject matter of the Deputy's question may draw from separate provisions in the 2019 Electricity Directive which requires that neither transmission nor distribution system operators own energy storage facilities. The CRU, as the independent regulator, carried out a review of these requirements in 2020. Through this regulatory exercise, it was confirmed that both ESBN and EirGrid meet these requirements, specifically that they do not own such storage facilities, and that there is therefore no further work needed with regards to these provisions.
I have no role in respect of the licencing matters referenced above. I am not aware of any engagement by my Department with the European Commission on reclassifying facilities such as pumped hydropower storage systems as grid infrastructure for the purposes of the grid operator, as set out by the Deputy.