Question to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr Pat Rabbitte, TD)
To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide an update on discussions with the UK Government on the export of wind generated renewable energy and on the associated proposed wind farm projects in the midlands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th July, 2013.
In 2012 I published the Strategy for Renewable Energy 2012-2020. This strategy reiterates the Government’s firm view that “the development of Ireland’s abundant indigenous renewable energy resources, both onshore and offshore, clearly stands on its own merits in terms of contribution to the economy, to the jobs and growth agenda, to environmental sustainability and to diversity of energy supply”. It is this position that informs Ireland’s commitment to delivering on its binding EU obligations under the Renewable Energy Directive, which assigned 2020 renewable targets to each Member State in 2009.
On the basis of expert advice, the Strategy for Renewable Energy also identified Ireland has the capability to achieve our national targets for renewable electricity from onshore renewable generation alone. In addition, it also recognised that Ireland has an excellent and abundant renewable energy resource, which has the potential to produce amounts of renewable electricity significantly in excess of the amounts required to meet our 2020 target. It is in this context that the opportunity to harness this resource for the export market, and realise its potential for investment, job creation and economic growth has been identified.
To this end, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation with my UK counterpart, Mr. Edward Davey, on 24 January this year. This MoU clearly signals the joint interest of Ireland and the UK in developing the opportunity for trading in renewable energy to our mutual benefit.
Detailed consideration of how Ireland’s onshore and offshore wind resources might be developed for export to the UK is now underway, with a view to determining if it is beneficial for both countries to enter into an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) under the EU Renewable Energy Directive.
There are very complex issues to be considered, such as, the actual scale of the export generation capacity required by the UK, the approach to be taken to grid development, the job creation potential and other economic benefits for Ireland, and the sharing of potential benefits between both States. The mechanism for remunerating any wind farms that may in the future export renewable energy to the UK has yet to be decided, but will not involve any subsidy costs being imposed on the Irish State. Any IGA would also have to ensure an adequate return to the Irish Exchequer.
Though it is ambitious, the target for completion of this work is early 2014, with a view to electricity being exported to the UK by 2020 in order to be counted towards the UK’s national target under the Renewables Directive.
Should an IGA be entered into, the development of any new wind farms for the export market would be underpinned by a clear policy framework. Such developments would also be subject to a selection process and to the Planning and Development Acts, including their requirements for public consultation. Based on principles yet to be established in an IGA, the need for further analysis to identify in more detail, the upper levels of Ireland’s capacity to develop generation and transmission infrastructure for large scale export of renewable energy, taking into account environmental and planning considerations, has been identified.