To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views that the current tariffs imposed on Bio Digesters are uncompetitive; if there are proposals to raise these tariffs in order to encourage all sources of renewable energy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Anthony Lawlor.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 22nd September, 2015.
Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Joe McHugh)
Electricity and heat produced from anaerobic digestion (AD) are supported under the REFIT 3 scheme. The rates of tariff for AD technologies available under the scheme were calculated following analysis by the Department along with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, and Teagasc. Since the introduction of the scheme in 2012, the Department has received a number of applications from AD plants for support.
The cost effectiveness of support for renewables is a key consideration in the work now underway in the Department to consider the appropriateness and design of new support schemes for renewable electricity and renewable heat. The initial public consultations on the two proposed new schemes for heat and electricity respectively closed on Friday, 18 September 2015. There will be a further two opportunities for the public to contribute to the development of the schemes. A key consideration in the design of the schemes will be the available technologies, their cost effectiveness and the level of any support required. Both schemes are expected to be available in 2016 subject to EU state aid clearance and Government approval.
It is also worth noting that academic and industry research suggests that there is the potential for a significant role in the heat and transport sectors for biogas, which is produced by anaerobic digestion. The draft Bioenergy Plan, published by the Minister last year, recommended that a detailed economic assessment of the costs and benefits of biogas would be conducted.
The Bioenergy Steering Group, which has been established to coordinate the implementation of the draft Plan, is currently finalising the request for tender document and the Department expects to be inviting tenders for this work shortly.