Dáil Éireann - Volume 536 - 10 May, 2001
Written Answers - Electricity Generation.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
44. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if her attention has been drawn to the capital grant assistance available for the development of the offshore wind industry in the UK, Denmark and Sweden and if she plans to bring forward a comprehensive policy on similar offshore wind development here. [13275/01]
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob): At the current stage of development of the wind industry within the European Union there is no single mechanism which provides the optimum means of supporting wind energy technologies on or off shore. At the national level, there is up to £43 million provided in the national development plan to support renewable energy technologies generally.
I am fully conscious of the contribution the offshore wind resource can make to increasing the production of electricity from renewable energy sources. In October last year I, in conjunction with my colleague, Sir Reg Empey, MLA, the Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, published a report entitled “Assessment of the Offshore Wind Energy Resources in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland”. This document acknowledges the  resource and provides a broad overview to developers of the potential resource offshore. There are currently four companies with licenses to investigate the suitability of seven offshore sites for the construction of wind parks to generate electricity.
Any support measure specific to offshore development will require prior clearance by the European Commission, under State aid rules. A standard condition of State aid applications is the submission of data on eligible costs and levels of aid intensity. This data can be estimated only under reasonable assumptions after the current exploratory works are concluded. I will discuss appropriate support measures with the industry, with a view to submitting a proportionate support mechanism to the European Commission for clearance under State aid rules, as soon as objective data from the exploratory works now under way are available.
Mr. Wall Mr. Wall
45. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if her attention has been drawn to plans by the ESB to stand down one of its generating plants in Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13182/01]
Mrs. O'Rourke Mrs. O'Rourke
Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke): I understand that the ESB has no firm plans to stand down any of its generating plant in Dublin at present. However, as the Deputy is aware, the ESB is committed under the Tripartite Agreement to reduce its share of the generation market. This represents a significant challenge for the ESB in the context of tight overall generation margins and some uncertainty as to the exact timing of the entry of new independent generation.
As the Deputy is aware, the commission for electricity regulation – CER – has responsibility for regulating terms for connection to and use of the transmission and distribution systems and related charges. Towards the end of last year, the CER advised me of a problem in the Dublin region in allowing new power plants firm access to the network in advance of completion of reinforcements to the transmission system.
In the interests of security of supply and the promotion of competition, I responded by requesting the CER to examine and implement as a matter of urgency, in conjunction with the national grid, the measures that need to be taken to resolve this matter quickly. The CER has been engaged in a comprehensive consultation process on this issue, which I understand is nearing conclusion.
Dáil Éireann 536 Written Answers Electricity Generation.