Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
The National Energy Research Development & Demonstration (RD&D) Programme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Outline call timelines are indicated on the SEAI website, with grant awards expected from Q4 2021, full details at: www.seai.ie/grants/research-funding/research-development-and-demonstration-fund/The 2021 Call received a significant increase in applications, demonstrating the strong demand for energy research funding in Ireland. Award announcements are expected imminently. I have been advised by SEAI that funding recommendations have been finalised, within the eligible programme budget, and are at the final stages of the approval process.
The National Energy RD&D Funding Programme has grown from attracting between €1-2 million in annual applications pre-2018, to almost €30 million in the most recent previous call and increasing again significantly in 2021 to more than €60 million. This is a significant step change for the programme. Concurrent enhancements to processes, IT systems, and resourcing, have been a key focus in 2021 to ensure the programme can continue to grow and scale going forward, to support national energy research and innovation, ensuring maximum impact for the Irish energy sector
60. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if it is planned to develop a strategy in consultation with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that will detail the port facilities that will be required to service the targeted offshore energy production outlined in the climate action plan; if State grants or grants under Ten-T will be used to part finance these developments; if State aid issues are likely to arise; and the dates by which this infrastructure will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59371/21]
Given Ireland’s increased ambition in the area of Offshore Renewable Wind Energy and pending a review of overall National Ports Policy, my Department in conjunction with the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO), has been conducting an assessment of the options for Irish State ports to facilitate the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) sector and assist in Ireland achieving its emission reduction targets.
That Assessment is now completed and an internal report is being prepared which Minister Ryan will shortly be considering. It is envisaged that a PolicyStatement will be finalised which will give clarity on the Government's strategy in this area.
In Ireland, the contribution from the Irish Government to the ORE industry is embedded in the Offshore Renewable Energy Supply Scheme (ORESS 1), where guaranteed income for the electricity produced will enable the wind farms to be financed and cover the cost of required port infrastructure and services.
Under National Ports Policy, no exchequer funding is provided to ports, so the Department has been exploring possible funding options to assist further with the provision of ORE facilities at ports. The Department engaged extensively with other Member States and the Commission advocating for the inclusion of funding for ORE required port infrastructure under the Connecting Europe Funding facility (CEF).
As a result, the CEF criteria was extended to allow EU funding of port infrastructure for ORE. This is significant and means that EU funding of port infrastructure for ORE will now be allowed under the CEF 2021-2027. This is a clear recognition of the vital role that ports will play in the achievement of carbon reduction through wind energy and that the EU is committed to supporting the development of ORE port infrastructure.
On its own, CEF funding does not have any State Aid implications and successful applicants can obtain significant grant funding of up to 50% of eligible costs for studies and up 30% of infrastructure works costs. The Department held an open information day on CEF on 21st October 2021 and is assisting, as appropriate, eligible applicants that are on the Ten-T network. It is a competitive process and a number of ports are applying in the current call for funding for studies which will effectively prepare them for lodgment of planning applications for ORE port developments from 2022 onwards.