Parliamentary Question: Energy Policy

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

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in the context of a national energy policy, if consideration was given to energy conservation as an alternative to additional electricity generation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if consideration was given to the effects on employment and tourism when developing energy policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN ANSWER on 16, June, 2015.

REPLY

The over-arching objective of Ireland’s energy policy is to deliver secure, competitive and sustainable supplies of energy to all consumers. Energy efficiency has a central role to play in meeting this objective. Improving the efficiency with which we use energy is already delivering real environmental, social and economic benefits for Ireland. This is why energy efficiency will be a key element of the Energy White Paper which I will publish in October. The Energy White Paper will set out the strategy for Ireland’s sustainable energy transition. Achieving this transition requires us to meet the challenge of significantly reducing our harmful emissions while ensuring all of our energy needs are met. While the scale of the effort required to do this cannot be met by energy efficiency alone, energy efficiency has a central role to play as part of a range of measure, which must also include increasing our use of renewable energy. Ultimately, energy efficiency measures, whether in heating, in transport, or in use of electricity, along with continued smart grid development, will deliver the means through which demand can be reduced and made more flexible.

Roll out of smart grid technologies will also allow us to increase the levels of renewable electricity generation with consequent benefits for the sustainability of our electricity generation portfolio. This position is fully aligned with both the EU and the International Energy Agency (IEA), which see energy efficiency as critical to facilitating the integration of greater levels of renewable electricity generation and achieving a cost effective transition to a sustainable energy system.

The overarching objective of the Government’s energy policy is to ensure secure and sustainable supplies of competitively priced energy to all consumers. A new Energy Policy White Paper, which will set out Ireland’s energy policy up to 2030, will be published in October. A very significant public consultation process has just been concluded, the outputs from which will guide the finalisation of the policy options for inclusion in the White Paper. My officials also conducted bilateral engagements with other government departments on the synergies and challenges presented for other sectors, including employment and tourism, in the development of energy policy. In terms of driving economic opportunity, the energy policy vision to be set out in the White Paper will see industry, government and the research community continuing to play their parts in the creation of the skilled labour force that builds and manages the energy efficient and low carbon energy system. That vision is also of strong, innovative and competitive companies, investing and creating employment, while also developing low carbon and energy efficiency technologies, products and services needed by consumers.

Posted under Employment, Energy, Tourism

Parliamentary Question: Energy Policy

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

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his Department has engaged with the Irish oil industry and appropriate public bodies to determine any policy options that might facilitate the commercial future of refining; the policy options available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN ANSWER on 9, June, 2015.

REPLY

Ireland has a single refinery at Whitegate, Cork that is owned and operated by Phillips 66. My Department is in regular contact with the company and I have met with Irish and US executives of Phillips 66 as well as with union representatives. I visited the refinery in November 2014. My Department has been engaging with Phillips 66 on the future of refining in Ireland. In early 2014, both the Department and Phillips 66 met with other relevant Government Departments and public bodies to discuss the matter. Later in 2014, my officials met with the Irish Petroleum Industry Association (IPIA), of which Philips 66 is a member. The industry views on the matter are varied and companies indicated a preference to discuss it further without other members present. My officials subsequently spoke with five of the companies on an individual basis.

I understand that there are a number of options for the refinery under consideration by the company. I intend to engage with my Ministerial colleagues in the near future on these and other policy options that might facilitate the commercial future of refining in Ireland.

Posted under Energy, Parliamentary Questions

Parliamentary Question: Energy Policy

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

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans for the refinery at Whitegate, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN ANSWER on Tuesday, 24 March 2015.

REPLY

The Whitegate Refinery is operated by a private company, Phillips 66. The company recently sold the Whiddy Island oil storage facilities in Bantry to Zenith Energy Ireland Limited but continue to operate the refinery at Whitegate. The company has confirmed that no decision has yet been taken in respect of its future.

In July 2013, a report on the strategic case for oil refining on the island of Ireland, commissioned by my Department, was published. The study found that the existing oil import facilities on the island of Ireland taken as a whole offer a robust infrastructure that could provide comfortable alternatives in the event of a serious disruption at any one of the six principal oil ports. The oil ports could supply the total oil demand, regardless of any future decisions on the operation of Whitegate as either a refinery or terminal. The development of the Irish motorway network has been significant in improving oil security of supply in recent years, facilitating the transport of oil from key ports throughout the island. Work with counterparts in Northern Ireland is ongoing with a view to enhancing contingency planning in both jurisdictions.

Following publication of the report, the Government’s primary conclusion on the strategic case for oil refining is that the presence of an operational refinery on the island provides flexibility, enhancing the options available to the State in the event of an oil supply disruption, by providing an alternative source of product thus mitigating a complete reliance on product imports.

In light of that conclusion, the Government had agreed that my Department should liaise with the Irish oil industry and appropriate public bodies to determine any policy options that might facilitate the commercial future of refining in Ireland. I expect to be in a position to brief Government on the available policy options shortly.

Posted under Energy, Parliamentary Questions