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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 451-62
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Cyber Security Policy
 Header Item Renewable Energy Generation Targets
 Header Item Alternative Energy Projects
 Header Item Alternative Energy Projects
 Header Item Energy Policy
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Alternative Energy Projects
 Header Item Wind Energy Generation

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 451-62

Planning Issues

 451. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the position regarding planning regulation; the enforcement of this regulation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47356/14]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey Under planning legislation, enforcement of planning control is a matter for the planning authority, which can take action if a development does not have the required permission, or where the terms of a permission granted have not been complied with. Planning authorities have substantial enforcement powers under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. A planning authority may issue an enforcement notice, non-compliance with which is an offence, in connection with an unauthorised development, requiring such steps as the authority considers necessary to be taken within a specified period. If an enforcement notice is not complied with, the planning authority may itself take the specified steps and recover the expense incurred in doing so. A planning authority may also seek a court order requiring any particular action to be done or not to be done.

Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including an enforcement matter, with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

Cyber Security Policy

 452. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White if he has prepared a cyber security strategy to protect digital public services and the users of the services; and if there is an indicative timeframe for the implementation of the strategy's implementation. [47320/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Government, businesses and private individuals depend increasingly on information and communications technologies in day-to-day social and business transactions. It is important therefore that Government takes steps to minimise risks to infrastructure and services.

My Department has been active in building systems and competence in the cyber security area over the past number of years. Working across Government and with the energy and telecommunications industries, and EU partners, the Department carries out regular exercises to test the capability of key organisations to respond to cyber threats and to manage a cohesive and robust communications network. In addition, the Department assesses threats as they arise and issues advisory notices to Government Departments, energy and telecommunications companies, to assist these entities in addressing such threats.

Building on existing capacity, my Department is preparing a new national cyber security strategy that will focus on improved cybersecurity capabilities. This will include improved protection and resilience for digital public services and the users of the services, as well as plans to formalise a National Cyber Security Centre, based on structures that have been established over the last number of years. I intend to publish the draft strategy for public consultation early next year, in consultation with colleagues in the Departments Justice and Equality, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Public Expenditure and Reform, all of whom have specific roles in relation to cyber security and who are working collaboratively with my Department to develop the strategy.

Renewable Energy Generation Targets

 453. Deputy Helen McEntee Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White the percentage target figure for renewable energy for the State for 2020. [46754/14]

 454. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White his Department's policy regarding a renewable energy mix for Ireland; the targets that are in place for each type of renewable energy to achieve a sustainable renewable energy mix; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46755/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I propose to take Questions Nos. 453 and 454 together.

The overarching objective of the Government's energy policy is to ensure secure and sustainable supplies of competitively priced energy to all consumers. While it is acknowledged that fossil fuels will remain part of the energy mix for some time to come, progress is being made towards increasing the share of renewable energy in our energy mix. The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive set Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020, to be achieved through 40% renewables in electricity, 12% in heat and 10% in transport.

There are significant policies in place to incentivise the increased use of renewable energy. The REFIT schemes underpin the development of a range of renewable electricity technologies, including hydro, biomass combustion, biomass combined heat and power, landfill gas and onshore wind. To date, wind energy has been the most cost effective renewable technology in the Irish electricity market, contributing most towards the achievement of the 2020 target.

Part L of the Building Regulations supports the uptake of renewable heat and the recently published Draft Bioenergy Plan recommends the introduction from 2016 of a Renewable Heat Incentive for larger heat users to change to heating solutions that produce heat from renewable sources. The Biofuels Obligation Scheme and grant support for the purchase of electric vehicles underpin the deployment of renewable energy in the transport sector.

In 2013, 7.8% of Ireland's overall energy requirement was met by renewable energy. This equated to 20.9% of electricity demand, 5.7% of heat demand and 2.8% of transport being met from renewable sources.

Alternative Energy Projects

 455. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White the number of staff in the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland that are dedicated to policy advice on biomass matters. [46792/14]

 456. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White the role the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland will be taking in implementing the new bioenergy action plan. [46793/14]

 457. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White the industry sources, other than semi-State organisations, that have been consulted on the draft bioenergy action plan since publishing. [46794/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I propose to take Questions Nos. 455, 456 and 457 together. 455, 456 and 457 together.

  I recently published a Draft Bioenergy Plan which is available on my Department’s website (
www.dcenr.gov.ie). The draft Plan will undergo Strategic Environmental and Appropriate Assessments, including public consultation and consultation with interested industry stakeholders, which will inform the content of the finalised Plan. These assessment processes will commence shortly.

  As Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources it is important that I understand the perspective of interested groups, companies and stakeholders. I meet very many interested parties in connection with issues across the energy agenda, including on bioenergy, in many different fora. Such interactions are a critical input to policy formation and development.

  The draft plan recommends a number a policy and enabling actions and identifies the public bodies, including the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which will be responsible for the implementation of these actions. Furthermore, reflecting the cross-sectoral nature of bioenergy, implementation of the actions arising from the draft Plan will be coordinated by a Bioenergy Steering Group which will be established shortly. The Bioenergy Steering Group will draw on the relevant government departments, agencies, including SEAI, and stakeholders as appropriate.

  The assignment of staff within the SEAI to specific work areas is entirely a matter for the SEAI and not one in which I, as Minister, have any role or function.

Alternative Energy Projects

 458. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White his views on the current state of biomass resources here; if they would sustain a Moneypoint conversion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46948/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I recently published a Draft Bioenergy Plan which is available on my Department’s website. The draft Plan will undergo Strategic Environmental and Appropriate Assessments, including public consultation, which will inform the content of the finalised Plan. These assessment processes will commence shortly.

The draft Plan recognises that, although Ireland will remain a net importer of biofuels in the transport sector, meeting demand for biomass from indigenous sources could deliver significant economic benefits. Consequently, the draft plan contains measures to stimulate and support the supply of Irish biomass. In this regard, the key recommendations include: the continued support for the Afforestation Programme; the continuation of the Bioenergy Scheme for energy crops; and the establishment of Bioenergy Ireland, a joint venture between Bord na Mona and Coillte.

Furthermore, in terms of developing new sources of biomass, the draft Plan provides that the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government will endeavour to optimise the availability of waste for energy and that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will continue its support for innovative energy uses for animal by-products.

As regards electricity generation, technology choices are commercial matters for project developers. The fuel used in the plant at Moneypoint is a matter for the operator and not a matter in which I, as Minister, have any role or function. I am advised, however, that there are a number of important issues that would demand further consideration before biomass could be used at Moneypoint including a requirement for substantially more biomass than is available domestically, with large amounts of the resource having to be imported. Furthermore, the commitment of substantial amounts of biomass to Moneypoint would divert scarce biomass away from the renewable heat sector, where biomass could be used more efficiently and where fewer alternative technologies exist.

Energy Policy

 459. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White when he expects to publish the White Paper on Energy Policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46950/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The written consultation process on the Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland concluded on 31 July 2014. Over 1,240 submissions were received. The process of developing a definitive Energy Policy is continuing. Further engagement at stakeholder events at various Dublin and regional locations has been taking place over recent months.

My Department is focussed on identifying all issues that may be of concern to citizens and stakeholders and on ensuring that the assumptions on which the final policy paper will be written are tested and accurate, so as to produce a dynamic and responsive evidence based framework which will allow us to steer an appropriate course as we seek to address sustainability, security and competitiveness challenges and opportunities.

The text of the policy paper will be progressed during the first half of 2015 with a view to publication of the final policy paper by September 2015. The new energy policy framework will be timely in that it will be guided by Ireland’s input to the EU’s 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy policies and the preparations for the UN’s COP21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Paris in December next year.

Departmental Properties

 460. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White the proposed works to Mountjoy House which is under the aegis of the Ordnance Survey Ireland; if a restoration and a new use is envisaged for this building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46982/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White While Mountjoy House lies within the main campus of buildings and facilities of Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, the building is part of the property portfolio of the Office of Public Works and OSI is not responsible for its maintenance or refurbishment. For the information of the Deputy, I understand that remedial works are currently being undertaken by the Office of Public Works to protect the fabric of the building. Any decision on refurbishment would be a matter for OPW in the first instance.

Alternative Energy Projects

 461. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding microgeneration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46985/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White While the matter raised by the Deputy in not one in which I, as Minister, have any statutory function, I am aware that Electric Ireland recently decided to close its scheme which had offered a micro-generation feed-in tariff since February 2009. No other electricity supplier had chosen to provide such a tariff, to either domestic or commercial customers, though they had been invited to do so by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). The CER is the independent statutory body responsible for the regulation of the electricity and gas markets.

  While Section 10A of the Electricity Regulation Act 1999, as amended, provides that the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources may give “general policy directions” from time to time, the Minister is expressly precluded from giving any policy direction in respect of any individual undertaking or person.

  I am aware of the need to give further policy consideration to the place of microgeneration in our energy mix. Analysis of the potential of micro-generation technologies such as small scale wind, solar and small scale hydro, has been carried out for my Department by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). It shows that while microgeneration has the technical potential to make a significant contribution to Irish electricity consumption, careful consideration would have to be given to the design of any potential future support scheme to ensure it is cost-effective. The SEAI's findings, along with responses to the recent consultation on the Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland, will inform future policy on the provision of any market support for micro-generation.

Wind Energy Generation

 462. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White the percentage of energy supply that emanates from wind farms; the maximum megawatt outage produced by wind farms to the grid; the lowest megawatt outage on the grid this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47055/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Wind generation will continue to play a critical role in meeting our commitment to achieve 40% of our electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020, as part of our overall EU obligation to meet 16% of our total energy demand from renewables.

  There is currently approximately 2,200 MW of wind generation capacity connected to the grid. It is estimated that a total of between 3,500 and 4,000 MW of onshore renewable generation capacity will be required to allow Ireland to achieve 40% renewable electricity.

  In 2013, wind generation supplied 16.5% of Ireland’s electricity demand. The maximum wind output to date occurred on 17 October this year, when wind reached a level of 1,784 MW at a time when the system demand was approximately 3,890MW. The instantaneous penetration of wind generation has at times been 50 percent of system demand. However, despite the fact that Ireland has one of the best wind resources in the world, there are times when the wind does not blow and wind generation is therefore not available to be used on the grid. Further statistics on the power system are available on the Smart Grid Dashboard on EirGrid's website: 
http://smartgriddashboard.eirgrid.com/


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