Co-operation between the North and South on energy matters takes place under the guidance of a Joint Steering Group (JSG) established by Ministers Ahern and Pearson in July 2003. The group comprises of senior officials from the respective energy Government Departments and regulatory authorities. In November 2004, the group published an All-Island Energy Market Development Framework which set forth the policy context for the creation of an all-island energy market. In addition, the Regulators have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which they have committed themselves to working together to develop an all island electricity market, henceforth to be known as the Single Electricity Market (SEM). The SEM is due to become fully operational by a target date of 1 November 2007.
On July 25th, 2005 the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland jointly issued a preliminary consultation paper on an all-island ‘2020 Vision’ for renewable energy. The paper was prepared by the Sustainable Energy Working Group (SEWG) of the JSG and sought views on the development of a joint strategy for the provision of renewable sourced electricity within the all-island energy market leading up to 2020 and beyond.
A working group was established to specify and oversee the completion of studies that would provide more detailed information on the issues raised in the consultation paper. The group in response recommended that an All-Island Grid Study should be undertaken comprising of four work-streams, each stream examining a different aspect of the impact of having a higher penetration of renewable energy on the Irish electricity system. The study is due to be completed during the course of 2007.
Renewable Electricity - A ‘2020 Vision’
All-Island Energy Market Development Framework
Renewable Energy Development Group
The current phase of the process of mapping out a future renewable energy strategy formally began with the launch in December 2003 of the consultation document ‘Options for Future Renewable Energy Policy, Targets and Programmes’. The document set out a range of indicative sustainable energy source penetration targets for the electricity market. It discussed future renewables policy and market issues, considered some of the barriers to be addressed and set out some of the options for support mechanisms.
These developments set the scene for the establishment in May 2004 by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources of the Renewable Energy Development Group (REDG). The group comprised of representatives from several Government departments and agencies, sectoral and industry nominees and was charged with the task of delivering a road map to 2010 targets and considering targets for beyond 2010.
A number of sub-groups were formed to feed in to the work of the REDG. The Short Term Analysis Group focussed its work on the achievement of Ireland’s 2010 target for electricity from renewable energy sources. The Bioenergy Strategy Group and CHP Policy Group were charged with considering policy options and support mechanisms available to Government to stimulate increased use of biomass and CHP for energy conversion to produce heat and electricity. At the same time, SEI and the Marine Institute were working together towards developing a strategy for the promotion of ocean energy in Ireland.
Renewable Energy Development 2006
The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources established a new Ministerial Task Force on bio-energy in 2006, as part of the ongoing policy to increase the share of indigenous renewable energy in the Irish heat, electricity and transport markets.
The Task Force has produced a comprehensive ‘Bioenergy Action Plan for Ireland’ which sets ambitious targets for the deployment of bioenergy, identifies priority areas for development and the necessary support measures to encourage supply and demand.
The establishment of the Task Force follows on from the Bioenergy Strategy Group (BSG) which was formed by DCMNR in December 2003. The composition of the BSG included representatives from relevant Government Departments, agencies, industry and academia. The work of the BSG started with an examination of the Irish biomass resource. It then looked at the technology pathways that were appropriate to the exploitation of the resource in a 2010 timeframe, and considered the principal barriers to current deployment. The BSG completed its work in December 2004, submitting a final report to the DCMNR.
At an EU level, the European Commission has published a Biomass Action Plan. This plan sets out measures to increase the development of biomass energy from wood, wastes and agricultural crops by creating market-based incentives for its use and removing barriers to the development of the market.
BioEnergy Action Plan for Ireland
BioEnergy in Ireland
The National Ocean Energy Strategy concerning the development of ocean energy was launched in April 2006. The strategy proposes to advance the speed at which ocean energy technologies are deployed in Ireland by increasing the capacity for research and development, both within academic institutions and commercial entities developing devices in Ireland. A structured and phased strategy of development supports is recommended to enable Ireland to utilize its ocean energy resource within a decade.
The launch of the Ocean Energy Strategy is an important landmark for the development of ocean energy in Ireland and places Ireland in a unique position worldwide by providing a definitive action plan to develop this important natural resource. There are a limited number of nations actively promoting the development of ocean energy technology and Ireland is beginning to establish itself as a significant member of this group.
Ocean Energy in Ireland
Irish Energy Research Council
Underlining the importance of research, development and demonstration (RD&D), the Irish Government inaugurated the Irish Energy Research Council (IERC) in June 2006. The Council represents a new departure in energy research in Ireland. With representation from academia, business, and government and its agencies, the Council will coordinate energy research and technological development and innovation (RTDI) activities and will seek to deliver an integrated approach to energy RD&D.