Written answers

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Renewable Energy Generation

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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17. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures he plans to take in the short-term to increase Ireland’s renewable energy supply. [15285/22]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The EU Commission on 8 March published REPowerEU: Joint European Action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy which sets out a clear plan to make Europe independent from Russian gas including through a faster paced transition to renewable energy sources.

The Climate Action Plan 2021 and annex of actions sets out a roadmap to deliver on Ireland's target of a 51% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by the 2030 including a suite of measures and actions to increase the share of electricity demand generated from renewable sources to up to 80%. Over the coming months, my Department will take measures to increase the supply of renewable energy sources in line with these targets and the overriding public need to accelerate the delivery of renewable energy projects in the context of energy price increases and energy market volatility resulting from Russia's war on Ukraine.

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is Ireland’s flagship policy to deliver on the Government’s target of up to 80% renewable electricity by the end of the decade. The first RESS auction for onshore wind and solar projects was held in 2020 and the first RESS 1 projects have now reached commercial operation with further projects to reach commercial operation throughout 2022.

The second RESS auction process has begun with the qualification application window having closed in January and the auction is scheduled to take place in May. Design of the RESS 3 onshore auction is also currently under development and my Department is also finalising the terms and conditions on the first of three planned auctions this decade for the offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS).

The Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Act 2021 was developed last year to provide the legal underpinning to an entirely new marine planning system, which will balance harnessing our huge offshore wind potential with protecting our rich and unique marine environment. In Q1 2022, my Department opened a consultation on the proposed assessment criteria for the first batch of Maritime Area Consent (MAC) applications from a set of seven qualified ORE projects. Consultation is also currently open on how the second batch of projects (Phase 2) will be selected to enter the new consenting system.

I have recently signed Regulations, which provide for the Clean Export Guarantee tariff, into Irish law allowing for micro-and small-scale generators to receive remuneration from their electricity supplier for all excess renewable electricity exported to the grid. In addition, my Department is working with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on a policy design for a small-scale generation support scheme. This will be progressed in 2022 and will become available in 2023.

As regards renewable heat and cooling, the SEAI published the National Heat Study on 22 February 2022. The Study, which was prepared at my Department’s request, contains detailed analysis which will now facilitate the development of options, policies and measures to decarbonise the heating and cooling sectors to 2050 and will be a key input into the delivery of a number of actions contained in the Climate Action Plan 2022.


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