Communications Energy and Natural Resources, Dáil Issues

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in view of the employment of 11,695 persons in the renewables sector in Scotland in 2013, the number employed in the renewable sector here; the reason for the variance; and his plans regarding same. – Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 29th January, 2015.

REPLY

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White)
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. In 2013, 20.9% of electricity, 5.7% of heat and 4.9% of transport, were met from renewable sources. In terms of achieving our 2020 targets, to date wind energy has been the largest driver of growth in renewable electricity in Ireland. In 2013, 16.5% of Ireland’s electricity demand was met by wind generation.
The economic benefits of the transition to renewable energy include employment from the construction and maintenance of generation infrastructure as well as from component manufacturing. Employment creation is strongly linked to the level of deployment and hence will be further strengthened as we continue this transition.

An Irish Wind Energy Association member survey in 2014 indicated that 3,400 people are employed in the sector in Ireland. A report published in 2014 by the ESRI and Trinity College Dublin, estimated direct and indirect employment under various realistic scenarios. The report, which estimates multiple thousands of jobs depending on the scenario, is available on the ESRI’s website atwww.esri.ie.

Additionally, biomass can replace imports of fossil fuels and contribute to job creation in Ireland. The availability of competitively priced locally-sourced biomass has the potential to enhance the opportunities for local employment in the sector. A report commissioned by the Irish Bioenergy Association in 2012 indicated that, in the context of 2020 targets, 3,600 permanent jobs could be created in the bioenergy sector with 8,300 work years available during construction and installation of biomass facilities. The Government recognises the enterprise potential of the sector and additional policies brought forward in the context of the draft bioenergy plan, published in Ocober 2014, will facilitate further employment in the sector.

The Economic Study for Ocean Energy Development in Ireland published by SEAI and Invest Northern Ireland in 2010 identifies the potential of the ocean sector for job and wealth creation. It found that an island of Ireland wave industry could produce 17,000 to 52,000 jobs and an NPV (net present value) of between €4 billion to €10 billion by 2030. Given the current state of readiness of the technology, these projections are unlikely to be achieved in the time-scale envisaged in the report, but they remain valid over a longer time frame.
[Ref No.: 3671/15]

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in view of the fact that the intention of the Scottish Government is that Torness and Hunterson nuclear stations will be closed and replaced by renewables, his views that nuclear power as an option for this country is mistaken in view of the potential for renewable energy off the coast. – Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Thursday, 29th January, 2015.

REPLY

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White)
The May 2014 Green Paper on Energy Policy covers a broad range of energy issues, including an exploration of all possible fuel options, for securing a balanced, sustainable and secure energy mix. It is in this context that any current discussions on nuclear energy policy are taking place.

It is important to note that there are currently no plans to introduce nuclear power in Ireland. In fact, the use of nuclear fission for the generation of nuclear power is statutorily prohibited by the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act, 2006 which prohibits the authorisation of development consisting of an installation for the generation of electricity by nuclear fission, while the Electricity Regulation Act 1999 makes similar provision in respect of regulatory authorisations.

The overarching objective of the Government’s energy policy is to ensure secure and sustainable supplies of competitively priced energy to all consumers. 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. To date onshore wind energy has been the most cost effective renewable technology in the Irish electricity market, contributing most towards the achievement of the 2020 target.

However there is also potential to diversify our renewable electricity generation portfolio in the period to 2020 and beyond. To that end, the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan, published in February last year, identifies the sustainable economic opportunity for Ireland in the period to 2030 of realising the potential of our indigenous offshore wind, wave and tidal energy resources. Furthermore the draft bioenergy plan published in October 2014, acknowledges the role the bioenergy sector can play in the transition to a low carbon economy.