5 August 2020
The provisional results of the first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction sets the new government on the “right trajectory” for its renewable electricity target, the Minister for Climate Action has said.
Under the auction, 19 wind farms and 63 solar projects around the country secured contracts of up to 16.5 years.
The sites, according to Minister Ryan, put the government on a path to achieving its 70 per cent renewable electricity target by 2030, which was set out in both the Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan.
The average weighted bid price was six euro cheaper than previous such schemes, like the 2019 REFIT support scheme.
The reduction, the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) finds, represents a “substantial saving” for electricity consumers.
The sites will also be “crucial” in Ireland’s contribution to the current EU-wide renewable target of 32 per cent by 2030 and to a 7 per cent per annum reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the decade, Minister Ryan said.
Meeting these targets will create over 10,000 jobs in construction and the inclusion of solar and community-owned energy projects will diversify the onshore wind-led renewable energy market, he added.
“The first big step”
The auction represents an important initial commitment to onshore wind energy targets, according to IWEA CEO David Connolly.
The contracts are the “first big step” to connect the additional 4,000 megawatts of onshore wind energy needed to meet the aforementioned 2030 targets.
In addition to job creation, the scheme will provide “almost €3 million annually in community benefit funding to local communities in Ireland,” Mr. Connolly said.
While there was a notable reduction in the cost of wind energy, the industry can, “be cheaper”, he added.
The new Government has the capacity to slash the price of indigenous renewable energy in half according to Mr Connolly, by building taller turbines, by making the planning system more efficient and by strengthening the energy grid.
“If the Minister stands by his commitment to deliver annual auctions then it gives us the best possible platform to build towards the 2030 targets, to decarbonise our energy supply and to cut the price of electricity,” Mr Connolly said.
In addition to onshore wind and solar, the State will also be depend on offshore wind energy generation in meeting its climate targets.
Just last month, Simply Blue Energy submitted an application to construct an offshore wind farm off the coast of Kinsale and upon completion, the company anticipates the farm will have a total capacity of up to 1 gigawatt.