The Department's principal responsibilities with regard to energy are:
Responsibility for policy is divided into six functional areas: Chief Technical Advisor's Office, Electricity Corporate & Energy Planning, Electricity & Gas Regulation, Energy Efficiency & Affordability, Oil Security & Energy Corporate Governance, and the Renewable & Sustainable Energy Division.
Specific responsibilities include:
- Electricity and gas policy
- Electricityand gas regulation
- Energy efficiency
- Energy poverty
- Oil security
- Corporate governance of state energy companies
- North-south energy co-operation
- Energy research
Monitoring and MeasurementEast West Interconnector
Data and Report of the Expert Monitoring Panel on Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF) Emissions in relation to the East West Interconnector (EWIC)
The East / West Interconnector (EWIC) is a 500 MW direct current (DC) cable connection between the national transmission grid systems of Ireland and Britain. The East West Interconnector is a strategically vital energy project for the island of Ireland and was financially supported under the European Energy Programme for Recovery.
EirGrid obtained full planning permission for the East West Interconnector as strategic infrastructure from An Bord Pleanála in 2009. This approval followed a comprehensive assessment process including an oral hearing at which all stakeholders were present.
Commercial trading of electricity over the EWIC is underway and the Interconnector is making a critical contribution to national security of energy supply and competition as well as underpinning the progressive development of renewable energy. The project was built to schedule and within budget.
DCENR has no function in any aspect of the matter of potential health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF). Responsibilities previously held by the then Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in relation to such effects of EMF became the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government from 1st May 2007. That department is currently examining how it might best resource this function.
Notwithstanding, in 2010, following representations from members of Rush Community Council about the health and safety implications of the Interconnector project, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) commissioned an additional independent expert opinion on health issues relating to High Voltage Direct Current (HDVC) cable technology in order to assist local community understanding and confidence. The Expert opinion was provided by Dr. Eric Van Rongen, a leading international expert on EMF. Dr. Van Rongen's report has been in the public domain since October 2010, together with an additional report on the operational safety of the Interconnector undertaken by the international energy consultants KEMA, published In June 2011. These two additional reports reinforce the conclusions inherent in the decision of An Bord Pleanála that Ireland's East West Interconnector project fully meets all relevant international health and safety standards.
Arising from further concerns being expressed in relation to EWIC by Rush Community Council, the Minister for Health and Children requested the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to prepare a report on whether or not the electromagnetic fields (EMF) associated with the operation of the EWIC underground cable posed a risk to the health of people living close to the cable route. This report was completed in July 2012.
The CMO’s report concluded that there was no evidence that EWIC operation posed a risk to health. It proposed that continuing reassurance could be offered to concerned citizens through a programme of monitoring of EMF and made suggestions as to how this might be implemented and overseen.
Following consideration of the report of the CMO and further discussions, a set of actions was agreed between the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister for Health and Children. The two Ministers agreed that expert contractors be engaged to undertake a programme of EWIC EMF measurements to a technical specification set out by this department’s Chief Technical Advisor, and that an independent expert panel would be appointed to provide commentary on the measurements obtained. EirGrid was not involved in the establishment of the Panel nor have any payments been made by EirGrid to the members of the Panel in respect of their work.
The independent monitoring panel comprised three experts; Dr. Harry Comber, an expert in epidemiology (appointed by the Minister for Health); Mr. Kevin Gaughan, an electrical engineering lecturer with particular expertise in power line monitoring (appointed by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources); and Professor Mark O’Malley, an internationally-recognised expert in high-voltage electricity grid systems (appointed jointly by both Ministers). These three independent highly qualified experts have since been commenting on their findings on EMF emissions in relation to the EWIC, and those reports, together with the measurements themselves, have been published, as received, on the DCENR website.
The independent monitoring panel checked the measurements against the ICNIRP guideline limits. ICNIRP is an independent organisation, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and provides scientific advice and guidance on the health and environmental effects of non-ionizing radiation (NIR) to protect people and the environment from detrimental NIR exposure. ICNIRP is officially recognized as a non-governmental partner by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The independent monitoring panel met for the first time in November 2012, and on several subsequent occasions. The expert panel met most recently on 29th August 2014.
The initial set of measurements provided to the panel was assessed in 2012. The panel was satisfied that the magnetic field at all individual frequencies was well below the reference levels recommended in the ICNIRP guidelines for general public exposure to individual frequency components..However, the members decided that it should pass comment on simultaneous exposure to multiple frequencies, which requires calculations to be performed on a large number of data measurements. Accordingly, it was decided that henceforth the data to be published with future reports will be presented in tabular form rather than graphical form, to enable those calculations to be performed by the panel.
In 2013 measurements were taken in February, May, June, July and October and in 2014 measurements were taken in January and April.
The panel agreed that the measurements show that in every case the magnetic field was well below the reference levels recommended in the ICNIRP guidelines for general public exposure to individual frequency components.
The sets of data for 2012, 2013 and 2014 together with the panel’s commentary is set out below.
East-West Interconnector (EWIC) Expert Panel - Report 313E4675-1 Rush and Woodlands EWI Mag Field Survey
14E4883-1 Rush and Woodlands EWI Mag Field Survey
14E4948-1 Rush and Woodlands EWI Mag Field Survey
EWIC Measurement Report
EWIC Expert Panel Commentary - Report #1
East-West Interconnector (EWIC) Expert Panel Report # 2
13E4434-5 Rush and Woodlands EWI Mag Field Survey
13E4648-1 Rush and Woodlands EWI Mag Field Survey
13E4666-1 Rush and Woodlands EWI Mag Field Survey
13E4781-1 Rush and Woodlands EWI Mag Field Survey
Latest Energy News:
The Strategy for Renewable Energy 2012-2020 published May 2012.
Two new REFIT schemes open: REFIT 2 and REFIT 3
S.I. 147 of 2011 and S.I. 158 of 2012 on the Renewable Energy Directive published
Ireland's National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP)
Key objectives for this sector are
- To develop a competitive energy supply industry
- To ensure security and reliability of energy supply
- To develop energy conservation and end-use efficiency
The Semi-State bodies / agencies involved in implementing energy policy are: