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Solar thermal policy in Ireland

General
The largest share of renewable electricity in Ireland is from hydropower and wind power. Ireland's target for renewable generation is to supply 15% of electricity demand by 2010 with major contribution expected from wind energy, as further large scale hydro development in Ireland is unlikely.  

The Renewable Energy Division of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is responsible for implementing measures to increase the penetration of renewable energy technologies in electricity production in Ireland. Ireland launched its programme to promote electricity from renewable energy sources in 1996 in "Renewable Energy - A Strategy for the Future". Policy on renewables was reviewed in 1999 with the publication of a Green Paper on Sustainable Energy. In December 2003 a further review of the sector was launched with the publication of the consultation document “Options for Future Renewable Energy Policy, Targets and Programmes”. This was followed in May 2004 with the setting up of the Renewable Energy Development Group, which has been considering the future options on policies, targets, programmes and support measures to develop the increased use of renewable energy in the electricity market to 2010 and beyond. The development of Ireland's renewable energy resources in electricity generation this has been achieved primarily through the administration of competitions under the Alternative Energy Requirement (AER) Programme. The six competitions held to date have been conducted under a competitive tendering process.

On 1st May 2006 the publication of the next market support mechanism for renewables was announced, to be known as the Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff (REFIT). In September 2009 additional categories were added to the list of eligible technologies, which at the time of writing (January 2010) is still not definitive as the schem is subject to state aids clearance which has yet to be obtained from the European Commission . The planned Terms of Conditions of the following REFIT II - Additional Categories (September 2009) relate to support for the construction of  biomass/anaerobic digestion CHP, ocean energy (wave and tidal) and offshore wind.

According to the Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources the target for the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy in the year 2020 for Ireland is 16% (in the year 2005 the share was 3.1%). The Directive has a mandatory 10 % target for transport to be achieved by all Member States, which refers to renewable sources as a whole, not biofuels alone.

Renewable energy projections according to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan for Ireland
The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) for Ireland was submitted in July 2010. The target according to Annex I of Directive 2009/28/EC is 16% for the year 2020 and the projected NREAP share in that year exactly matches the target.  According to the projection, the most important contribution in the year 2020 is expected from wind power (12.0 TWh or 1029 ktoe, 45% of all renewable energy). Second important contribution is expected from biomass (renewable heating and cooling) (486 ktoe, 21% of all renewable energy). The third largest contribution is from biodiesel (renewable transport) (342 ktoe, 15% of all renewable energy). Wind power contributes with 4.6 GW (12.0 TWh) in the year 2020 (onshore wind 4.1 GW and 10.2 TWh, offshore wind 0.6 GW and 1.7 TWh). For solar photovoltaic the 2020 contribution is projected to be 0.0 GW (0.0 TWh). For solar thermal the 2020 contribution is projected to be 20 ktoe. The two most important biofuels are projected to contribute 342 ktoe (biodiesel) and 139 ktoe (bioethanol / bio-ETBE) by 2020. The renewable electricity production from solid biomass amounts to 0.7 TWh (59 ktoe) and for biogas it is expected to be 0.3 TWh (27 ktoe). The consumption of renewable heat is expected to amount to 453 ktoe for solid biomass and 33 ktoe for biogas.

Renewable heating and cooling: solar thermal
The market for solar thermal has seen important growth in Ireland since the beginning of the 21st century. However, despite the current growth rates, the penetration of this technology remains relatively small as compared with neighbouring European states.

The first incentives offered specifically for renewable heat in Ireland were in support of solar thermal technologies in 2001. Since that time, additional capital grants and subsidies have been offered for solar thermal through the Greener Homes and Renewable Heat Deployment Programme (ReHeat) arising out of Budget 2006 and Budget 2007.

The Greener Homes Scheme was allocated €27million in the Budget 2006 package figure. Budget 2007 provided for an additional increase of €5million in 2007 and provision for additional spending of €7million in 2008 and €8million in 2009. Through the Greener Homes Scheme administered by Sustainable Energy Ireland, home owners can apply for a grant of €250 per m2 of flat plate collectors, and €300 per m2 of evacuated tube collectors, up to a maximum of 6m2. The total number of applications to the Greener Homes Schemes to date (April 2009) is 26,352, of which solar thermal is 54%.

Future programme changes expected
No information available.

Sources
http://www.estif.org/solarkeymark/skii/results/countryreports/final/R.IRELAND-FINAL.pdf, Status Republic of Ireland, December 2007

Renewables for heating and cooling, untapped potential. IEA, July 2007, http://www.iea.org/Textbase/publications/free_new_Desc.asp?PUBS_ID=1975

Greener Homes Schemes, Sustainable Energy Ireland, http://www.sei.ie/index.asp?locID=1305&docID=-1 (sourced August 2008)
 
Renewable energy factsheet Ireland, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/energy_policy/facts_en.htm (sourced January 2008)

Greener Homes, http://www.sei.ie/Grants/GreenerHomes/Scheme_Statistics (sourced April 2009)

The National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) are all published on the Transparency Platform on Renewable Energy: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/transparency_platform/action_plan_en.htm (sourced July - December 2010)

Renewable Energy Projections as Published in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the European Member States, http://www.ecn.nl/nreap (sourced December 2010)


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