Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is a Green Paper?
Q2. What is a White Paper?
Q3. What was the process for developing the White Paper?
Q4. What consultations were held?
Q5. Can I get a hard copy of the White Paper?
Q6. What do you mean by "Energy Transition"?
Q7. How will this energy transition be funded?
Q8. How will you ensure the actions in the White Paper are progressed?
Q9. Why engage the citizen?
Q10. Communities at centre? what concrete actions to make this happen? 


Q1. What is a Green Paper?

The Green Paper (published in May 2014) was a consultative document that sought to kick-start a debate about Ireland's energy policy. Only through consultation with the wider public could we gain a more complete picture of Ireland's current energy profile. The Green Paper set out the background and context for the development of Ireland's future energy policy. It also outlined progress that had been made since Ireland's last White Paper in 2007. The Green Paper research would inform the views of the Government as it set about preparing an energy policy framework that would lead us out to 2030 and beyond.


Q2. What is a White Paper? 

The White Paper – on Energy Policy - is a statement of Government policy in the energy sector. It sets out an Energy Policy Framework that will take the country up to the period of 2030 and highlights a context that reaches out to 2050. It outlines the actions that the Government intends to take in the period up to 2030. It is a high-level policy framework and not an operational programme. It does not set specific targets or detailed policy measures.

The White Paper does set out the actions that will be required to be taken over the years ahead. The strategies and policies that will be developed will set out the individual measures and targets.


Q3. What was the process for developing the White Paper?

The White Paper Energy Policy Paper process started with publication of a Green Paper setting out the background and context for the development of Ireland's future energy policy.

It provided an opportunity for all interested parties to make submissions and express their views.

While acknowledging the continued importance of the three pillars of energy policy (sustainability, security and competitiveness), the Green Paper identified six priority policy areas:

  • Empowering Energy Citizens;
  • Markets, Regulation and Prices;
  • Planning and Implementing Essential Energy Infrastructure;
  • Ensuring a Balanced and Secure Energy Mix;
  • Putting the Energy System on a Sustainable Pathway; and
  • Driving Economic Opportunity.

The Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland was published on 12th May 2014 and set out the main developments in the Irish, European and global energy landscape since the last Energy White Paper was published in 2007.

The 2014 Green Paper provided an opportunity to reflect and take stock of our current situation and to consider all views on interventions necessary in the long term to shape future energy policy.


Q4. What consultations were held?

All energy stakeholders, including the general public have had an opportunity to express their views on the Green Paper.  The Department repeatedly stressed the importance attached to ensuring a robust debate and encouraged citizen and stakeholder engagement with the consultation processes.

This process included:

  • A written consultation process in which  the public had 10 weeks to make their submissions;
  • Seminars on the six Priority areas identified for consideration in the Green Paper and an additional seminar on Energy Costs, and
  • Four regional seminars.

Almost 1,250 submissions were received as part of the written consultation process.

The seven specialist seminars were organised by the Department and the four regional seminars were organised by Irish Rural Link on behalf of the Department, to ensure that local interests within each region were fully represented and had an opportunity to express their views on all aspects of energy policy.


Q5. Can I get a hard copy of the White Paper?

Yes, please email or call 01 6782151/2934.


Q6. What do you mean by "Energy Transition"?

The White Paper sets out the vision for Ireland's energy system for 2050.

It sets a vision of a radical transformation of Ireland's energy system which is required to meet our climate policy objectives. This transformation will result in a low carbon energy system by 2050.

This means that GHG emissions from the energy system will be reduced by between 80% and 95%, compared to 1990 levels.

This is an ambitious vision for Ireland's energy system.


Q7. How will this energy transition be funded?

The White Paper states:

"The energy transition will bring benefits but it will require investment, behavioural change and will also incur costs. These costs will primarily be funded by commercial and household investment and charges on energy use. In some instances, this will be supported by Government initiatives and EU funding."

The timeframe for the White Paper is 2015 to 2030 – the next decade and a half. Over time, the cost of carbon-intensive energy sources, services and products will increase. This will lead to changes in behaviour and the adoption of low carbon fuels and energy efficient technologies and solutions.

In addition, technological and innovative developments will lead to a reduction in the costs of low carbon services and products allowing for a cost effective transition.


Q8. How will you ensure the actions in the White Paper are progressed?

To ensure that our long-term energy policy is transparent, robust and coherent, we intend to publish an annual progress update.

This will provide an update on progress made towards achieving the actions set out in the White Paper.

The new National Energy Forum, announced in the White Paper, will also provide a key input into the monitoring of progress of the White Paper.

In addition, a comprehensive review will be carried out every five years.


Q9. Why engage the citizen?

Citizen participation is a fundamental requirement if we are to achieve a successful sustainable energy transition. The transition requires citizens making significant changes to their lives and how they use energy.  We cannot expect these changes to happen by themselves; mutual engagement, imparting knowledge, listening and learning are all part of that journey. 

Over the course of the energy transition, citizens will need to embrace new cleaner energy sources, in the areas of electricity, heat and transport. So, it stands to reason that our citizens must be better informed about energy policy objectives. One of the key dimensions of the White Paper is the acknowledgement that Government  needs to do more to support citizens to participate directly in, and derive local benefit from, a more sustainable energy system.


Q10. Communities at centre? what concrete actions to make this happen?

The White Paper includes the vision for 2030 where:

"citizens and communities will be active participants in the energy transition, with

robust public and stakeholder engagement in energy policy, and effective community

consultation on energy infrastructure developments"


In addition, there are a number of actions contained in the White Paper including:

  • "work with energy agencies, community experts and local government to ensure that information is provided to citizens in a timely and accessible manner"
  • "supporting community participation in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, via the SEAI, to share best practice, provide information and ensure that local strategies align with broader Government policy"
  • "facilitating access to the national grid for designated renewable electricity projects, and developing mechanisms to allow communities to avail of payment for electricity, such as the ability to participate in power purchase agreements"
  • "providing funding and supports for community-led projects in the initial stages of development, planning and construction. These will be defined using criteria such as scheme size and degree of community ownership"
  • "developing a framework for how communities can share in the benefits of substantial new energy infrastructure which is located in their area"
  • "examining shared-ownership opportunities for renewable energy projects in local communities"
  • "supporting, in particular, the emerging energy co-operative movement as one means of facilitating community participation"
  • "ensure that grid connection policy will have due regard to current and future renewable energy policy, including in relation to community renewable energy projects; this policy, will be defined using criteria such as scheme size and degree of community ownership"

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