Parliamentary Question: Renewable Energy Generation

Question to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources ( Mr. Pat Rabbitte, TD)

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the supports in place for companies that install their own renewable electricity generating facilities on their manufacturing facilities; his views on these initiatives which are taking place in the harbour region of Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter- Jerry Buttimer.

For WRITTEN response on Wednesday, 15th January, 2014

REPLY

I am aware that there are a number of renewable energy projects which are proposed for the Cork Harbour area and I understand that four wind energy developments have received planning permission. I also understand that a pre-planning application has been made to An Bord Pleanála in relation to the development of a waste-to-energy facility in the area.

Under the Renewable Energy Directive Ireland must ensure that 16% of its energy comes from renewable sources by 2020 and there are a number of Government supports for renewable energy generation.The Renewable Electricity Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) schemes are the principal means of supporting renewable electricity generators for renewable energy exported to the grid. The schemes operate by guaranteeing a minimum price for renewable energy generation over a 15 year period. The technologies supported include onshore wind energy, hydroelectricity, landfill gas, waste-to-energy and biomass technologies, including anaerobic digestion. Further information is available on my Department’s website, .There is also tax relief available, under Section 486B of the 1998 Finance Act, on capital directly invested in renewable energy generation assets. All renewable electricity generating technologies can avail of Section 486B of the Tax Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997 which allows an investor to claim the lesser of 50% of all capital expenditure (excluding lands) or €9.525 million for a single project. Investment by a company or group under this scheme is capped at €12.7 million per annum.Other tax-based support measures include the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) Scheme which allows individual investors to obtain income tax relief on investments in renewable energy in each tax year. This scheme supersedes the previous Business Expansion Scheme. It provides a minimum tax relief of 30% with an additional 11% accruing at the end of the third and final year if the business has expanded to employ a designated number of people (or if the investment was used for R&D). The scheme has an investment cap of €750,000 and may thus be suited to small industrial renewable energy projects. A number of financial services companies offer EII Funds or portfolios to investors.An Accelerated Capital Allowance scheme also allows companies to offset the cost of investment in qualifying renewable energy generation technologies, against their tax liabilities in year 1 rather than over a more prolonged period, thus aiding their cash flow.Renewable energy may also qualify for EU rural development funding identified in the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development and rural enterprises may thus apply for funding, under the regional Leader Partnerships, to develop renewable energy projects.Finally, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) continues to provide grant support for companies investing in renewable energy installations as a component of coordinated programmes of energy efficiency measures under the Better Energy Workplaces and Better Energy Communities schemes. The SEAI Renewable Energy Information Office also provides support and information to companies requiring advice on adopting renewable energy technologies.

Posted under Cork, Energy, Parliamentary Questions

Parliamentary Question: International Energy Research Centre

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 the Government supported International Energy Research Centre and the involvement of University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  – Jerry Buttimer.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th July, 2013.

REPLY

The International Energy Research Centre (IERC) is a joint initiative between industry, Government Departments and Agencies.  Established in 2010-11, it is supported by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation working with a coordinated agency project team drawn from IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

It is hosted by the Tyndall National Institute, based in Cork and part of University College Cork.  To date, six major industrial partners are formally signed up and actively engaged: Alcatel-Lucent, Bord Gáis Éireann, GM, HSG Zander, IBM and United Technologies Research Centre (UTRC).  The IERC strategy is to position Ireland as a leading edge location for developing integrated energy solutions where knowledge-intensive international and Irish companies along with leading research partners will develop innovative energy solutions for global markets.  Its focus is thus on turning research ideas into businesses and jobs.

Within this initiative over €5 million of research activity is underway across a number of research establishments in Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions – in NUI Galway, University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology, University College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology.  These activities include development of new technology solutions, such as wireless sensors for commercial buildings, home area networks and smart factories, and are linked to international research expertise in the USA, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Apart from its host role through the Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork is part of the research team on two projects, investigating wireless sensor technology, energy diagnostic tools for buildings and thermal storage materials.  Cork Institute of Technology is part of the research team on two projects, investigating wireless sensor technology and energy diagnostic tools for buildings.

Posted under Communications, Energy, National Work, Parliamentary Questions

Parliamentary Question: Wind Farms

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.

REPLY

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.

Posted under Communications, Energy, National Work, Parliamentary Questions