[Ref No.: 47848/14] * To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in view of the recent National Competitiveness Council’s report, which warned against the States over-support of wind turbines and recommended a full cost benefit analysis of wind energy; the steps he will take to implement these recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Anthony Lawlor. * For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th December, 2014. (617 Received on 3rd December, 2014.)


Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White)

The overarching objective of the Government’s energy policy is to ensure secure, sustainable supplies of competitively priced energy to all consumers. As a State we have ambitious targets for 16% of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 through meeting 40% of electricity demand from renewable sources, with 10% renewables in transport and 12% in heat. The National Competitiveness Council report correctly states that in the event of a shortfall against our 2020 targets, the Exchequer would incur significant costs in order to comply with our obligations under EU law.

Analysis undertaken by my Department, the SEAI, EirGrid and the Commission for Energy Regulation assessed the costs and value of choosing the path towards 40% renewable electricity generation in 2020, compared to a scenario where renewable electricity remained at 2013 levels. This analysis informed a report which is expected to be published shortly.

The REFIT schemes underpin the development of a range of renewable electricity technologies. The current REFIT 2 and 3 schemes remain open for applications until the end of 2015. To date, onshore wind energy has been the most cost effective renewable technology in the Irish electricity market, contributing most towards the achievement of the 2020 target. My response to Question No. 7 on 23 October 2014 further reinforces the value of wind energy to our economy.

The cost effectiveness of support for renewables is a central concern in the work now underway in my Department to consider the appropriateness and design of a new support scheme for renewable electricity, to be available from 2016. Any scheme would be subject to the new EU rules on State Aid adopted by the European Commission earlier this year. The commercial success of onshore wind means that we are now at the point where a gradual move to a more market based support for the technology is appropriate. Taking account of developments in EU electricity market integration, my Department will be engaging with stakeholders in this work, a key component of which will be consideration of the available technologies, their cost effectiveness and the level of any support required.