The National Development Plan 2018-2027 envisages that commercially-operated state owned enterprises (SOEs), will be expected to make a significant overall contribution to the investment package.
"Exchequer funding allocated for public capital investment over the period 2018 to 2027 will amount to €91 billion," says the plan. "This Exchequer investment will be supplemented with State-backed investment by commercial SOEs to generate a total 10-year investment programme estimated at €116 billion."
The plan states that commercial SOEs “are a significant tool in delivering public infrastructure objectives without the need for Exchequer funds, including in particular - energy, public transport, ports and airports”.
"SOE investment will include the continued "development and improvement in Ireland's ports and State airports by the relevant responsible commercial State Owned Enterprises, consistent with sectoral priorities already defined through National Ports Policy and National Aviation Policy, in addition to continued Exchequer support for the small regional airports", the plan says.
A range of major commercial State sector energy projects will also be undertaken over the period of the plan, it says.
“SOEs are expected to invest in excess of €13 billion in energy related investments, with a particular focus on investment in regulated energy network infrastructure to provide smart reliable electricity networks to support security of electricity supply, SMART metering and enable increased renewable Generation,” says the plan.
The remainder of the investment will be in conventional and renewable power generation assets and other energy related areas, it says.
"The focus of the investment in regulated network infrastructure, the majority of which is expected to be funded by the ESB, is to ensure that Ireland's network infrastructure is maintained to the highest international safety standards, that it is fit for purpose in the medium- to longer-term in order to meet projected demand levels, and that it meets the challenge of integrating world-leading levels of renewable energy.
“The ultimate objective of the investment is to assist in ensuring a long-term, sustainable and competitive energy future for Ireland.”
It is clear that despite pockets of local opposition to electricity pylons, the Government expects EirGrid to press ahead with the cross-border interconnector to meet expected electricity needs, though without specifying whether supply should be over ground or buried.
“EirGrid, who manage, develop and operate the transmission grid, will continue to progress a number of important projects within the All-Island Electricity Market, and will continue to assess opportunities for interconnection with neighbouring electricity markets, for example, the Celtic Interconnector to facilitate the diversification of our electricity supply sources,” says the plan.
"Increased interconnection would also be expected to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices. ESB, Bord na Móna and Coillte are active in the power generation sector and are currently planning to continue to invest in renewable energy technologies.
“The harnessing of these technologies will contribute to decarbonising Ireland’s electricity generation and meeting Emissions Trading System emissions targets.
“The main renewable energy technology that the companies have invested in to date is on-shore wind. The companies had 438 megawatts at the end of 2016, estimated to be 15 per cent of the overall operational wind farm fleet in the State.
“These companies plan to continue to invest in these technologies over the coming years, with some investments expected to be delivered on a joint-venture basis. This investment is currently expected to be predominantly in wind generation assets but opportunities in other renewable technology options will also continue to be explored.”