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To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide an update on the development of wave power here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 17th July, 2014.

REPLY

The ocean energy sector in Ireland, as in other countries, is at the pre-commercial stage. As identified in the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP), which was published earlier this year, the ocean energy sector holds real potential for growth in the green economy and jobs in our coastal communities. The OREDP sets out policy actions and enablers to realise this ambition.

Supporting developers in bringing their devices from prototype to full scale commercial viability requires a broad range of policies. To that end, the ocean energy development budget, administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), provides support to developers in various ways. €6.5 million is available from the budget during 2014. Initial device development and testing is supported through the Prototype Fund. Developers must satisfy a range of technical criteria to indicate potential viability in order to receive funding. The €6.5m also includes funding for the development of the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) off County Mayo. From 2016, this facility will provide a grid connected test site with some of the best conditions for wave energy development in the world. Currently SEAI and the Marine Institute provide quarter size test facilities off the Galway coast.

The Irish Maritime and Energy Research Centre (IMERC) provides initial device testing facilities and critical research and development capacity. My Department is contributing €3 million in co-funding to the IMERC between 2013 and 2016. In total, my Department has allocated €26.3 million for ocean energy in the period 2013 to 2016. This funding, which will benefit from increased cross government coordination through the implementation of the OREDP, is vital if the ocean energy sector is to reach its full potential in Ireland. The fact that this level of funding has been retained for ocean energy despite the budgetary constraints of recent years indicates the level of Government commitment to realising the potential of our abundant, indigenous, offshore energy resources.

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in view of the warning of the international panel on climate change, the reason Ireland is not following their recommendation to leave all fossil fuels in the ground; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 17th July, 2014.

REPLY

Security of energy supply is crucial to every society and economy. A well balanced fuel mix that provides reliable energy, minimises costs, and protects against supply disruptions and price volatility, is essential to Irish consumers and businesses.

The SEAI publication, Renewable Energy in Ireland 2012, noted the that oil and gas are a critical component of our energy mix, providing 76% of primary energy requirement in 2012. While Ireland has made considerable progress with regard to the use of renewable energy, it is the case that fossil fuels will continue to provide the lion's share of the energy mix well into the future.

The contribution of renewable energy to overall energy demand is rising steadily. It rose from 2.3% to 7.1% between 1990 and 2012, with renewable electricity contributing 4.1% to the overall energy demand in 2012. Ireland has committed to a target of 16% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, through 40% from renewable electricity, 12% from renewable heat, and 10% from renewable transport. The ambition to have 40% of electricity consumed from renewable sources by 2020 is one of the most demanding in the world.

The Government is continuing to develop policies and actions aimed at increasing our security of supply, addressing our dependence on imported fossil fuels and achieving a more secure energy mix, while capitalising on indigenous renewable and conventional energy sources. The exploitation of indigenous gas supplies, and possible oil supplies, are important components of these policies.

The SEAI publication ‘Energy Forecasts for Ireland to 2020’ projects annual primary fuel requirement through to 2020, assuming that Ireland meets current renewable energy and energy efficiency targets set by the EU. These projections, which are available on the SEAI website, show that Ireland will remain dependent on fossil fuels well into the future. Oil and gas will remain central to the economy, particularly in the heating and transport sectors, until affordable, secure and viable alternatives become available.  

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namaleaks

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Namaleaks is a project that seeks to uncover possible injustice and poor practice related to NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) and financial institutions in Ireland.

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