Today IrDEA's Yvonne Murphy (CEO) and Dr David Connolly (Chairperson) appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action alongside Professor Professor Brian Vad Mathiesen from Aalborg University, Copenhagen.
Discussing the decarbonisation of Ireland's heat sector as part of the Committee's ongoing examination of the topic, IrDEA spoke to the benefits and opportunities offered by district energy, which include significant prospects for scalability and rapid rollout.
As part of this, Dr Connolly and Ms Murphy set out a number of key policy barriers to be addressed, such as,
- The current lack of a regulatory framework to allow for heat networks to be developed along public roadways in a similar fashion to electricity, water, and communications infrastructure.
- The need for significant capital support to kick start the industry, specifically a similar level of support to the 40% of CAPEX being rolled out in the UK.
- Strategic planning to ensure the efficient deployment of DH alongside other decarbonisation technologies such as heat pumps so the critical mass needed is retained.
- Equalisation of grant support with other decarbonisation technologies to provide a level playing field for DH.
- Promotion of DH as the preferred option for suitable public buildings to establish an anchor-load to make networks viable.
In response to questions from a number of Deputies on affordability and consumer protection, the IrDEA representatives emphasised the importance of regulatory and market safeguards to protect customers.
Speaking after the Committee hearing, Connolly stated,
The opportunities for district heating in Ireland are there and it's great to see this level of engagement from stakeholders to find ways of tapping into that. It was great to get such considered questions from the Committee members, a really strong sign that district energy is moving up the agenda.
Ms Murphy concluded in stating,
We're grateful to the Committee for giving us the time to make the case for district energy today. I'd be very hopeful that this is the beginning of a constructive dialogue that will help us find policy and legislative solutions to address the few but crucial policy barriers faced by the industry at present.
Documents Furnished to the Committee