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.


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

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


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.


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