Ireland Publishes Green Paper On Energy Policy

Author:Mr Michael O'Connor
Profession:Matheson
 
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Introduction On 12 May 2014, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources published a Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland. The Green Paper is a precursor to a White Paper that will follow and which will seek to define Irish energy policy for the coming years. The publication of the Green Paper is to be welcomed as an important step in the future development of Irish energy policy. The Green Paper comes seven years after the 2007 Energy Policy Paper, "Delivering a Sustainable Energy Policy for Ireland." Much has happened in the interim. Successes The Single Electricity Market for the Island of Ireland introduced in 2007 is generally considered to be a success. The drive towards increased renewable penetration, the key facet of our pursuit of deep and deeper decarbonisation, has also been very successful. The generation capacity shortages of the last decade have been addressed in a managed fashion by our policy makers and regulators and in a less managed fashion by the fall off in demand consequent on the economic malaise of the past six years. Other positive developments since 2007 have included increased competition in the electricity generation and supply markets; successful measures aimed at curtailment and management of market dominance; the successful deployment of the East-West Interconnector by EirGrid; and deeper regulatory un-bundling of our vertically integrated monopolies. Improvement needed The news however has not all been positive. Ireland's continued failure to put in place a regulatory and permitting framework that would enable the State and/or private enterprise to bring ashore significant proven gas reserves persists to the detriment of our economy and citizens. We have not addressed security of supply through the facilitation of the development of new gas storage and/or LNG. This is despite the fact that plans to develop the latter have been in train for almost a decade now. Key electricity transmission infrastructure is not progressing for reasons of social acceptability, whilst any assessment of the potential for the exploitation of non-conventional on-shore gas resources has been deferred pending the outcome of a lengthy state-sponsored study that will focus solely on environmental aspects. We still await a single gas market for the Island of Ireland to parallel the Single Electricity Market, even though the proposal was first mooted six years ago. Policy review and consultation process It is hoped that the Department's policy review will give due consideration to the cost of policy options from a regulatory perspective. The implementation of policy choices can very often require the support of complex and burdensome regulation, and continued regulatory intervention, with significant cost implications for market participants and ultimately consumers. As a small peripheral nation on the edge of Europe, we have little actual influence on the final make-up of the European energy policy and regulation that drives our own energy policy and the manner in which we regulate our market. The Green Paper presents six energy policy priorities for discussion followed by a series of questions aimed at encouraging debate on key issues that should be taken into account in the development of future energy policy for Ireland. Feedback is sought from interested parties and responses need not be confined to the questions posed. The closing date for submissions is 31 July 2014 and the Green Paper can be viewed at: http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Energy/Energy+Planning+and+Electricity+Corporate+Division/ The six priorities listed in the Green Paper are...

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