National Energy Security Framework sets out the government’s response to the impacts of the war in Ukraine on the energy system in Ireland

The government today launched the National Energy Security Framework, which provides an overarching and comprehensive response to Ireland’s energy security needs in the context of the war in Ukraine.

The Framework sets out how the government can support households and businesses, with a particular focus on protecting those most at risk of fuel poverty, how it is already ensuring Ireland’s energy security, and how it will speed up the country’s shift to increased energy efficiency and indigenous renewable energy systems. It also sets out how consumers and businesses can be supported to save energy and save money.

As we emerge from the pandemic, international social and economic activity has ramped up demands on energy across the globe. In addition to the urgent humanitarian crisis, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought about new challenges for security of energy supplies across Europe.

This has resulted in significant increases in the price of oil and natural gas which has, in turn, led to increased retail prices for petrol, diesel, heating oil, gas and electricity – not just in Ireland, but across Europe.

Speaking at the publication of today’s National Energy Security Framework, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, and Transport, Eamon Ryan, said:

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is unparalleled in recent European history. The government has focused on dealing with the immediate impact of the invasion, by supporting the people of Ukraine – by providing urgent humanitarian relief and refuge to those who have been displaced by this terrible conflict.

“The National Energy Security Framework is a comprehensive response to the emerging and developing impacts on our energy system caused by the war in Ukraine. It sets out how Ireland is prepared to deal with potential shocks to our energy system. The war in Ukraine also underpins how important it is that we switch at speed and at scale to our own indigenous renewable energy sources.

“The energy price increases that we have experienced are related to fossil fuels primarily. This Framework is pointing us away from fossil fuels and towards greater levels of indigenous renewable energy. It also provides details on progressive measures that Government has already put in place to support households and businesses, like the ambitious retrofitting scheme. We want to ensure that homes across the country are warmer, healthier and cheaper, starting with generous grants for attic and cavity wall insulation which can benefit between 500,000 and 700,000 households immediately.”

National Energy Security Framework

A new Energy Security Emergency Group has been established to coordinate and oversee Ireland’s response to the current challenges. This group, chaired by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, has overseen the development of a new National Energy Security Framework.

The National Energy Security Framework coordinates work on energy security across the oil, gas and electricity sectors and sets out a ‘whole-of-government’ response to energy security including a key focus on energy affordability.

The Framework sets out the government’s action in response to these issues across key themes:

  • managing the impact on consumers and businesses
  • ensuring security of energy supply in the near-term
  • reducing our dependency on imported fossil fuels

The Framework also sets out how households and businesses will be supported to save energy and money with a programme of communications that will inform what actions they can take to reduce their energy demand, how they could lower energy bills and what supports are available to them.

Managing the impact on consumers and businesses

The Framework details supports and protections that are already in place and that are being enhanced including:

  • a new targeted €20 million scheme for the installation of Photo Voltaic (PV) panels for households that have a high reliance on electricity for medical reasons
  • a package of measures to enhance protections for financially vulnerable customers and customers in debt in the electricity and gas sectors
  • a review of the price-drivers behind electricity and natural gas bills (including network costs) with a view to mitigating cost increases for consumers and businesses in the near term
  • the continuation of the excise duty reduction on petrol, diesel and marked gas oil until the Budget in October 2022
  • a reduction in VAT from 13.5% to 9% on gas and electricity bills from the start of May until the end of October
  • an additional payment of €100 for all recipients of the Fuel Allowance
  • the reduction to zero of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy on electricity bills

Ensuring security of energy supply in the near-term

While the war in Ukraine has led to significant impacts on energy prices, the impacts on energy security have not, to date, been as pronounced. However, energy security may be impacted depending on developments. For that reason, Ireland needs to be adequately prepared should further issues arise.

There are structures in place to deal with emergency situations, to manage supplies of electricity, gas and oil in the short term.

Key actions identified in the Framework include:

  • reviewing and testing emergency plans for oil, gas and electricity
  • implementing as a priority the programme of work set out by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to ensure security of electricity supply
  • preparing the electricity system and planning for potential disruptions to supplies of natural gas and managing potential impacts on final electricity consumers
  • ensuring frameworks for cooperation on natural gas supplies to Ireland are reviewed and updated as required, in the context of the EU’s gas market and security of supply legislative proposals
  • continuing to work closely with the oil industry to monitor the supplies of oil in Ireland on an ongoing basis and keeping under review the need to release strategic oil stocks to the market

Reducing our dependency on imported fossil fuels

Over the longer term, ensuring the security of Ireland’s energy supply means reducing Ireland’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. This is in the context of the EU phasing out its dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal imports as soon as possible.

The government is already committed, for example, to achieving up to 80% of electricity generation from renewables by 2030, as set out in the Climate Action Plan. Over the longer term, the government’s commitment to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, to more reliable and less harmful renewable sources of energy, will benefit everyone in our energy bills, nationally in our energy security, and globally in our climate ambitions.

There are 3 key areas of work:

  • reducing demand for fossil fuels, which would seek to reduce overall demand for oil, natural gas and coal in Ireland. This can be done through demand reduction measures, or energy efficiency measures
  • replacing fossil fuels with renewables, which would seek to reduce the use of gas, oil and coal in Ireland by replacing these with renewable energy sources such as wind energy, solar energy or bioenergy
  • diversifying fossil fuel supplies, which would seek to replace any Russian supplies of gas, oil and coal (direct or indirect) with supplies from other sources

The responses set out in the Framework include:

  • developing a National Policy Statement on Heat, based on the outcomes of the National Heat Study including a key focus on the decarbonisation of our building stock and the development of district heating
  • developing proposals for regulatory options to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuel heating throughout our building stock, including effectively ending the use of fossil fuels for space and water heating in all new buildings with limited exemptions
  • accelerating the delivery of home retrofits by implementing the National Retrofit Plan, including by providing supports to homeowners in the private rental and Approved Housing Body sectors and continuing to deliver the Local Authority Retrofit Programme
  • implementing the National Sustainable Mobility Policy as a priority, including establishment of a Leadership Group to drive implementation, and devising a programme of measures for the transport sector to increase energy efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels
  • leveraging the successful roll-out of the National Smart Meter Programme by providing electricity customers with access to their data and greater insight into their consumption patterns, thus enabling them to select the most appropriate tariff
  • aligning all elements of the planning system to fully support accelerated renewable energy development
  • reviewing grid connection arrangements for renewable electricity projects and the development of system services to accelerate the growth in renewable electricity
  • expanding the roll-out of renewable microgeneration
  • prioritising the development of a hydrogen strategy
  • prioritising the review of security of supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems

Communications to households and businesses

While the transition away from fossil fuels is underway, Government, homeowners, motorists, communities, and businesses, must all work together to overcome the immediate energy security challenges resulting from the current exceptional circumstances.

The government cannot fully insulate against the uncertainties and impacts of the war, and there will be a need for collective action to conserve our energy resources.

A public information campaign is in development to inform the public about the actions they can take to contribute to the national effort. The campaign will empower people to reduce their energy use and encourage long-term sustainable behaviour. The campaign will take account of seasonal demands on energy consumption to ensure information and advice is relevant and timely.

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