Dáil Éireann - Volume 674 - 10 February, 2009
Written Answers. - Alternative Energy Projects.
Deputy Denis Naughten Deputy Denis Naughten
Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he is taking to promote the use of domestic renewable energy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4494/09]
Deputy Joe Costello Deputy Joe Costello
Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the greener homes scheme; the number of applications that were made for grants in 2007 and 2008; the number of applicants awarded grants in 2007 and 2008; the cost of the grants given under this scheme per month from April 2006 to date in 2009;  if he will provide this information in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4535/09]
Deputy Eamon Ryan Deputy Eamon Ryan
Deputy Eamon Ryan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 104 and 127 together.
The development of domestic renewable energy is a key priority and is being supported by a range of actions and programmes ranging from Research and Development, investment incentives and mandatory requirements.
I have launched a microgeneration pilot scheme being undertaken by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). The programme will assess technical, financial and regulatory issues surrounding the deployment of small and microgeneration technologies in Ireland and will provide grant aid for around 50 pilot installations.
The initiation of the pilot trial of micro- and small-scale generation technologies that will lead to successful implementation of good quality projects yielding meaningful information in a short timeframe is a priority action in the microgeneration programme.
The pilot field trial will investigate and test technical, market and regulatory issues associated with their installation, network connection and operation and generation.
An associated primary objective is to assess measures required for supplier and product qualification to minimise the risk of adverse outcomes at small-scale and microgeneration installations, hence promoting the robust growth of a microgeneration supply base. In the absence of relevant European Standards for technologies or robust qualifications for installers, interim arrangements will be put in place for the pilot.
A call for expression of interest is currently open for the Low Carbon Housing Programme administered by SEI. In addition to having a minimum requirement of a Building Energy Rating of A2 or higher the targets also include provision for onsite generation.
The Revised Building Regulations brought into force in July 2008 now include a compulsory renewable energy component for all new houses. This will not only ensure that renewables are integrated into the housing stock but will also encourage individuals to consider a range of renewable options when purchasing a new home. This is further underpinned by the introduction of the Building Energy Rating which provides information to house purchasers on energy performance and to which renewables will contribute.
The Government’s Greener Homes Scheme, administered by SEI, provides support to individuals wishing to install renewable energy heating technologies in their homes. This scheme, now in operation since early 2006, has already helped establish a very strong supply industry for renewable energy products, services and fuels while the application of strict product standards and installer training and quality schemes has ensured that consumers are informed in relation to their choices. The following is the detail sought by the Deputy in relation to the scheme.
The following table shows the total amount of grant paid and the number of payments to householders per month since the launch in 2006 of the Greener Homes Scheme to end December 2008.
Question No. 105 answered with Question No. 83.
Deputy David Stanton Deputy David Stanton
Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the production of ethanol for use as an alternative fuel and energy source; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4590/09]
Deputy Jan O’Sullivan Deputy Jan O’Sullivan
Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on biofuels; his further views on the biofuels targets at an EU level following the concerns regarding food prices and land use; his further views on the feasibility of second generation biofuels produced here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4545/09]
Deputy Seán Connick Deputy Seán Connick
Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the amount of excise relief and other forms of subsidies granted in respect of imported biofuel in each of the years 2006, 2007 and 2008. [4804/09]
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of companies currently licensed and approved for the production of bio-diesel or other forms of plant oil or motor or heating fuel; the total production from all such sources in each of the past three years to date; the number, if any, of such companies that have, as yet, not supplied any products in the same period; the number of similar companies, though not approved, that have started production; the extent of any such production; when it is intended that those with a proven production record are likely to be recognised and supported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4950/09]
Deputy Eamon Ryan Deputy Eamon Ryan
Deputy Eamon Ryan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 106, 116, 500 and 510 together.
Sustainable biofuels will play an important part in delivering the 10% renewable energy target for transport fuels by 2020.
 The Biofuels Mineral Oil Tax Relief Schemes have resulted in 18 projects being awarded excise relief between 2005 and 2010 with four of these projects in the bioethanol category. The schemes were designed as interim measures to accelerate the level of biofuels in the fuel mix, in advance of the introduction of a biofuels obligation. Biofuels are already being mainstreamed in blends of up to 5% at a number of existing petrol and diesel pumps, and higher blends are being sold to identified vehicle fleets. Given the fact that bioethanol is the generally approved replacement for petrol, it has a valuable role to play in national bioenergy policy.
The information sought by the Deputy in relation to imported biofuels is not available. The Office of the Revenue Commissioners advises that the total cost of these excise relief schemes to date is estimated at €40m. I am committed to the development of an Irish biofuels industry and to the sustainable development and deployment of indigenous bioenergy resources.
In relation to licensing of biofuel companies, I have no function on this matter. Consents for the construction of a Biofuel production facility would obviously be required from a number of sources, such as the local authority and possibly the Environmental Protection Agency (depending on the feedstock), while in due course, compliance with the EU Sustainability Criteria will become a condition of biofuels being counted towards EU targets.
The planned introduction of a Biofuels Obligation will require all fuel suppliers to ensure that biofuels represent a certain percentage of their annual fuel sales. The biofuels obligation is designed to provide a long-term market based framework for the development of a biofuels sector and delivery of biofuels targets to 2020.
The public consultation process in relation to the Biofuels Obligation Scheme has recently been completed and there were 40 submissions received as part of the consultation process. My Department is now analysing the submissions with a view to preparing specific details for a final Biofuels Obligation Scheme which will be cognisant of the views expressed by stakeholders. I will bring a proposal to Government soon and introduce the necessary legislation required in order that the Biofuels Obligation Scheme can be introduced in January 2010.
Through the full application of the EU sustainability criteria, the Biofuels Obligation Scheme mechanism will allow us to ensure that the biofuel we use is sustainably sourced, and evolving technologies will allow us to increase the penetration rate without any impacts on food prices. Given that biofuels will form an increasingly important component of European transport fuels in the coming years, it is vital that these criteria are not alone robust and effective in protecting those most at risk in the developing world, but that they also set the agenda for further investment in more efficient biofuel production, and for investment in second generation biofuels.
Through appropriate RD&D schemes such as the Charles Parsons awards, we are incentivising the development of second generation biofuels, which will not use food stocks as raw material input. Work is currently underway to determine what the marine environment might contribute to developing the national biofuels capacity. The analysis will include identifying the necessary research, development and demonstration projects to realise any such potential. Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) is commissioning analysis of the potential of marine algae as a source of biofuels for Ireland and my Department is also supporting the Interreg project “Biomara”, which will be examining all potential opportunities for biofuel production from marine sources. This work will provide a comprehensive basis on which to inform research and development work on the potential use of marine algae for renewable energy. It will also provide data in relation to the biofuels capacity that could potentially be derived from the marine environment.
Dáil Éireann 674 Written Answers. Alternative Energy Projects.