Dec 16, 2014
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his Department has received proposals from the private or public sector to generate energy from wave power in the County Waterford offshore area.
REPLY (Minister Alex White):
Wave and tidal energy is still at the research, development and demonstration stage globally. While promising experimental devices have been developed, much research, development and demonstration is required to bring wave energy technology to commercial viability.
Policy action to develop the wave energy sector in Ireland, and realise the potential of this abundant indigenous resource, is being led by my Department through the implementation of the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan.
Any proposals for the development of wave energy require consent under the Foreshore Acts. This is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government. Financial support for the development of wave energy devices is available from the Prototype Fund administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
While the technical appraisal of individual project proposals is a matter for these bodies, my Department engages with interested parties in the context of its ongoing implementation of wave energy policy and its remit to facilitate the development of the sector.
No proposals in relation to wave power generation in County Waterford have been received in my Department, nor as I understand matters, have any been received in the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government or the SEAI.
Dec 16, 2014
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the costs of importing fossil fuels to Ireland for the past five years; his views on the increasing costs and the effect that this will have on competitiveness for businesses here, and the increasing costs to households; the measures he will take to reduce these costs and improve Ireland’s competitiveness; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
REPLY (Minister Alex White):
I and my Department are acutely aware of the financial challenges faced by families and businesses from high electricity prices. However, it is important to note that the electricity and gas markets are commercial, liberalised, and competitive and that they operate within national and European regulatory regimes.
I have no statutory function in the setting or review of electricity prices. Responsibility for electricity and gas market regulation is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which is an independent statutory body.
Comprehensive data on fossil fuel prices is available in the recently published Energy in Ireland 1990-2013 report. This is published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and is available on their website.
At a national level, electricity and gas prices are no longer regulated by CER. The competitive energy market results in choices for consumers and businesses in terms of suppliers, products and prices and exerts downward pressure on prices.
The reduction in wholesale gas prices since the beginning of 2014 has led to reductions in the wholesale electricity price. These reductions should have a knock on impact on retail prices and are reflected in the latest Eurostat figures, published by the SEAI on the 9 December 2014 in their report Electricity and Gas Prices in Ireland.
The report shows that all business consumption bands in both electricity and gas experienced reductions in average prices in the first half of 2014, ranging from 0.7% to 4% in electricity and 6.7% to 12.9% in gas.
Similarly, Eurostat figures show a reduction of 5.7% in the average price of gas in the residential consumption band with the largest share of the market, while the average price of electricity in the residential consumption band with the largest share experienced a reduction of 1.3%.
Consumers can try to mitigate electricity and gas prices by shopping around to get the best possible price and service deal from suppliers and I would encourage them to do so. Measures such as comparison websites, approved by the CER, exist to assist them in this endeavour.