Update: Availability of Critical Infrastructure, 24th June 2015

24th June 2015 - Bernard Durkan TD

[Ref No.: 18191/15]

 To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the availability of adequate critical infrastructure, such as road, rail, air, and sea transport, ready access to high speed reliable telecommunications, renewable energy, and housing; the extent to which his Department continues to monitor the availability of such facilities, and plans for the future accordingly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Bernard J. Durkan.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 3rd June, 2015.

(1  Received on 5th May, 2015.)

Transferred from Public Expenditure and Reform [Ref No.: 18191/15]

 To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the availability of adequate critical infrastructure, such as ready access to high speed reliable telecommunications and renewable energy; the extent to which his Department continues to monitor the availability of such facilities, and plans for the future accordingly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Bernard J. Durkan.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 16th June, 2015.

(1  Received on 5th May, 2015.)

Resubmitted from: 03/06/2015 [Ref No.: 18191/15]

*  To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the availability of adequate critical infrastructure, such as ready access to high speed reliable telecommunications and renewable energy; the extent to which his Department continues to monitor the availability of such facilities, and plans for the future accordingly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Bernard J. Durkan.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th June, 2015.

(653  Received on 5th May, 2015.)

Changed from ORAL to WRITTEN

REPLY

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White)
Delivering on the energy and telecommunications infrastructure needs of a 21st  Century society is a key priority for Government and my Department and we are making demonstrable progress in both areas.

The National Broadband Plan is delivering high speed telecommunications access to every home and business in Ireland regardless of its location through a combination of commercial investments and a partnership between Government and telecommunications companies to ensure the required high speed capable infrastructure is accessible at all premises.

The commercial telecommunications sector is currently investing approximately €2.5 billion in network infrastructure upgrades and enhanced services with approximately 1.6 million of the 2.3 million addresses in Ireland expected to have access to commercial high speed broadband services over the next 18 months. Services are already available to approximately 1.2m addresses. These very significant investments represent a step-change in the quality of broadband services available.

Last November I published a national high speed coverage map for 2016. This map is available at www.broadband.gov.ie. The map shows Ireland with two colours, BLUE and AMBER. The areas marked BLUE represent those areas that will have access to commercial high speed broadband services over infrastructure installed on a commercial basis by end 2016. All premises within the Amber area will be included in the State’s intervention to make the required infrastructure available to provide high speed services in other areas.

I anticipate that the first homes and businesses will be connected in 2016 and connections will continue thereafter, with the intention of having accessible infrastructure available at all premises within a 5 year period.

In relation to energy infrastructure, in July 2012 my predecessor published an Energy infrastructure policy statement in which the Government reaffirmed the imperative need for development and renewal of our energy networks, in order to meet both economic and social policy goals. The statement was particularly iimportant as it required local government planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to have regard to it thereafter. An additional key element of the strategy was that it affirmed the major investment underway in the high voltage electricity transmission system under EirGrid’s Grid 25 Programme was the most important such investment in Ireland’s transmission system for several generations. The Grid 25 Strategy is designed to put in place a safe, secure and affordable electricity supply throughout Ireland and to help Ireland to achieve its 2020 renewable energy targets. Grid 25 has been reviewed in 2011 and again last year, each taking account of changing technical and economic circumstances. The outcome of the 2014 review was published in March this year in the form of a draft grid development strategy. It states that Ireland’s energy transmission needs can be met with reduced new infrastructure build because of new technological developments and updated projections of future electricity demand.

The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive set Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. In order to meet this target, Ireland is committed to meeting 40% of electricity demand from renewable sources, 12% renewables in the heating sector and 10% in transport. Ireland has made good progress with regard to renewable energy deployment. To date, wind energy has been the largest driver of growth in renewable electricity. Provisional figures provided by the SEAI for 2014 show that 8.6% of Ireland’s overall energy requirement was met by renewable energy. In addition, SEAI has calculated that 22.6% of electricity, 6.7% of heat and 5.2% of transport were met from renewable sources

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