Dáil Éireann - Volume 632 - 21 February, 2007

Written Answers. - Alternative Energy Projects.

Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will make a condition that the farmers involved in windfarm building will receive the option of investing in 25% of the windfarm and the balance on rent arrangement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6720/07]

  Mr. N. Dempsey: The commercial production of electricity is a fully liberalised market. I have no statutory authority to insist on any particular ownership arrangement in any independent undertaking proposing to harness wind-power to generate electricity.

It is a matter for each landowner to negotiate the terms and conditions under which any other party can occupy the landowners’ land to construct and operate a windfarm.

Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of mico-generation units installed in Ireland; the breakdown of wind and solar micro-generation units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6769/07]

  Mr. N. Dempsey: With regard to renewable heat microgenerators, under the Greener Homes Scheme Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) has to date, approved grant assistance for a total of 11,000 such installations under this scheme. An indicative breakdown of the number of heat microgenerators approved for funding to date is as follows: Heat Pumps 3080; Solar Thermal Panels 2970; Wood Biomass Heating 4950.

Under the SEI House of Tomorrow Programme, funding has to date, been approved for the following numbers of renewable heat microgeneration installations: Solar Hot Water Heaters 1634; Heat Pumps 731; Wood Biomass Boilers 724.

[278] ESB Networks have confirmed the numbers and breakdown of electricity microgeneration units connected to the distribution network as follows: Wind 5; Solar Photovoltaic 2; Hydro Power 10; CHP 1.

The Commission for Energy Regulation confirmed the number of licensed microgenerators in Ireland as follows: Solar Photovoltaic 1; Hydro Power 2.

It should be noted that these statistics relate only to grid connected electricity microgenerators and other electricity microgenerators who have complied with regulations by applying for a generating licence. There may be numbers of electricity microgeneration units operating in isolation from the electricity grid that are not officially recorded.

SEI has provided funding for the following numbers of electricity microgeneration units less than 50kW e in size under its Renewable Energy R,D&D, House of Tomorrow, Public and Commercial Sector and Micro-CHP Pilot Programmes: Wind 8; Photovoltaic 36; Hydropower 1.

Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the amount of Ireland’s energy consumption being met by renewable fuel sources in total, and individually through wind, biomass, solar, geothermal or wave resources; the generating capacity for electricity that each of the above renewable sources are supplying; the breakdown which each renewable technology uses of renewable energy in the categories of electricity production, domestic and commercial use; his views on the potential contribution of wind, wave, biomass, CHP or solar technologies to a future more diverse and balanced energy mix up to 2020 and beyond; the wave energy technology projects in place here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6770/07]

  Mr. N. Dempsey: Significant renewable energy resources are being harnessed to contribute to Ireland’s energy consumption in the electricity, heat and transport markets. I have forwarded a graph detailing energy flow in Ireland in 2005 to the Deputy.

The graph and the following table, which are based on data supplied by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and additional data available from EirGrid, record the most up-to-date statistics available to my Department.

In 2005, use of renewable energy generally in the residential sector amounted to 44 kilo tonnes of oil equivalent, in the commercial sector amounted to 3 kilo tonnes of oil equivalent and in the industrial sector amounted to 163 kilo tonnes of oil equivalent. Biomass represented the majority fuel input in these sectors. I expect that the deployment of renewable energy technologies [279] will increase significantly over the coming years, as a result of recent funding initiatives including the €26m Bioheat programme aimed at the commercial, community and voluntary sector, the €11m CHP programme and the €47m Greener Homes programme aimed at the domestic sector.

The following renewable electricity generating plant has been commissioned by end 2006:

Commissioned electricity generating plant at end 2006.

Technology

Hydro

Wind

Biomass

Installed capacity

236 MW

744 MW

35 MW

I have established a target to increase the production of electricity from renewable energy sources from the EU target of 13.2% to 15% by 2010. The Taoiseach has announced a target of 33% of gross electricity consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Wind energy will be the dominant technology in the electricity market to 2010. The contribution by technology to 2020 is more difficult to predict. The outturn will depend on the development of the all-island market and technological developments within individual technologies including energy storage from wind turbines and developments under RD&D programmes nationally and internationally in the other renewable technologies.

In 2006, I launched a new ocean energy strategy, which aims to put Ireland at the forefront of ocean energy development and position us to capitalise on this resource. The strategy was developed by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and the Marine Institute.

As the first stage in implementing this strategy, we have recently upgraded the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre in UCC as well as opening an ocean energy test site a mile and a half off the coast of Spiddal, Co Galway. SEI and the Marine Institute are also currently supporting a number of other ocean energy research and development initiatives.

The second phase of the strategy will see the development of pre-commercial grid connected devices and provide for a grid connection to a suitable test site. This phase is expected to be activated in the period 2008 to 2010, pending the outcome of the tests in phase one.

Phase three of the Strategy, which is envisaged for 2011 to 2015, involves supporting a 10MW array of devices which would be connected to the grid.

Clearly the pace of technological development will have an impact on the dates for implementation of the strategy. This is an area that I will be requesting the Energy Research Council to examine, with a view to accelerating RD&D work in this developing and promising area. The [280] recently announced Charles Parsons awards have also provided funding to University College Cork for the research activity focussed on two main areas — Ocean Energy Resources and Ocean Energy Device Modelling. The research into Ocean Energy Resources assesses the wave energy resources and the tidal stream resources while the Ocean Energy Device Modelling develops tools and methods for the prediction and optimisation of performance.

Ireland has one of the most promising ocean energy resources in the world, and the Government aims to position Ireland to take full advantage of this resource in the future.

The European Commission’s Biomass Action Plan states that the EU could double biomass energy production by 2010. A series of measures are proposed including a possible heating and cooling Directive and Ireland is engaging proactively on this debate. The forthcoming White Paper on Energy Policy will address targets for renewables including biomass in the heating sector to 2020.

The development of an Irish biofuels market and the increased development and deployment of bio-energy resources in Ireland is a key priority for the Government. A range of initiatives are in place to support the development of a biofuels sector in Ireland. In 2005, market penetration of biofuels was 0.05%. I have introduced a number of measures in the past two years which will allow Ireland achieve targets of 2% in 2008, 5.75% in 2009 and 10% in 2010.

These targets will be delivered through the two excise relief programmes rolled out by my Department in 2005 and 2006, and through the introduction of a biofuels obligation, which I announced on Monday 12th February. The obligation will require all fuel suppliers to ensure that biofuels represent a certain percentage of their annual fuel sales.

I will forward the Deputy a copy of SEI’s publication “Energy in Ireland 1990-2005”, published in November 2006, which provides detailed statistics on energy trends, forecasts and indicators.