Minister Bruton Announces Ireland's Scheme to Reach 70% Renewables

Government approves key design features of first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction 30% Increase in Renewables Expected in Round One

CHANGCHUN, China, December. 3, 2019 /PVTIME/ -- The Minister for
Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, T.D. today
(Monday the 2nd of December) announced details of the first
Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction which has received
Government approval.

The Climate Action Plan, published in June of this year, is the
Government's plan to give Irish people a cleaner, safer and more sustainable
future. The Plan sets out actions across every sector which will ensure we meet
our future climate commitments. A key part of the Plan is a move to 70%
renewable electricity by 2030.

Minister Bruton said:

"Ireland is currently 86% reliant on fossil fuel. We must radically
reduce this dependence and make the transition to cleaner, more renewable

"We are exiting from peat and coal to generate electricity and moving
to clean, renewable sources of power, like wind and solar. The Renewable Energy
Support Scheme is a flagship Government policy designed to deliver on our
commitments to decarbonise our electricity grid, harness our natural resources
and bring renewable energy into the heart of our communities.

"Today, I am announcing the details of the first auction under the
Scheme. Installed wind capacity has grown by 50% since 2015. This auction could
see capacity grow further by 30% in the next three years, with solar and
community participation. This is the equivalent of powering up to 640,000
 homes every day and will have a significant impact on delivering what we
set out in the Climate Action Plan."

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is an auction-based scheme
which invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a
guaranteed price for the electricity they generate.

The Government has agreed the proposed elements of the Scheme, which
subject to state aid approval, will make up the first auction set to open next

  • Increasing Technology Diversity The Scheme will be open to a range of technologies that will broaden the renewable energy mix and enhance security of supply.
  • Solar The Government has approved the inclusion of a solar category, subject to state aid approval, which would represent approximately 10% of the overall auction
  • Community led category The Government has approved the inclusion of a community category within the auction, subject to state aid approval of up to 30 GWh
  • Community Participation: An obligatory community benefit fund scheme will provide opportunities for communities to play their part in Ireland's renewable energy transition

The first auction is set to open early next year, subject to State Aid
approval and will deliver up to a 3,000GWh increase in renewable electricity
generation by the end of 2022.

Community participation

Every project developer will be obligated to contribute to a Community Benefit
Fund at a rate of €2 per Mega Watt hour (MWhr) every year. This will generate a
minimum amount of up to €6m for communities living in close proximity to
renewable projects each year.

The RESS will also mandate that Irish citizens or communities will have
access to investment opportunities in renewable energy projects, prioritising
those citizens that live in close proximity to the projects. The Minister
expects to announce further details on this aspect in the New Year.

Minister Bruton said:

"I am keen that communities where renewable energy projects are being
built are included in the project's development. The Government have agreed to
make this a strong element of the Scheme. I am pleased to confirm that work on
the establishment of an enabling framework to support community projects and
participation is well underway and will intensify in the New Year"

Further information is available on the RESS page on the Department's website. The draft
terms and conditions of the first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme will be
published in mid-December for a five-week consultation.

Notes for Editor 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is still subject to EU state aid

The RESS is a product of both independent economic analysis and public
participation and consultation. Across two public consultations, over 2,000
submissions were received and considered. The development of RESS has also
included an in-depth review of international best practice, across Denmark,
Germany, Canada and Scotland; world leaders in community-led renewable
electricity projects.  

RESS Auctions

The frequency of future RESS auctions is dependent on the renewable
electricity project supply pipeline. It is envisaged that a minimum of four
auctions will occur between 2020 and 2027 to deliver on the 2030 targets. This
will provide pathways for renewable developers including offshore wind projects
as it sets out the indicative timelines and volumes for auctions over the
coming decade and provides clarity for developers in relation to when they need
to have their projects 'auction ready'.  It will also allow Ireland to
take advantage of new technologies as they emerge.

Increasing Technology Diversity

As renewable technologies such as offshore wind mature and costs decrease,
Ireland will be able to take advantage of falling costs of technology
throughout the next decade, which in turn will lead to greater diversification
of its renewable portfolio.

Community Enabling Framework

There are several pillars to the community framework which include:

  • Community Benefit Fund (CBF)

A mandatory Community Benefit Fund must be provided by all projects
successful in a RESS auction. The contribution is to be set at €2/MWh. The Fund
will be aligned to incentivise investment in local renewable
energy, energy efficiency measures and climate action initiatives.

  • Investment opportunities

The RESS will mandate that Irish citizens or communities will have access
to investment opportunities in renewable energy projects, prioritising those
citizens that live in close proximity to the projects.

  • Community Supports

The Community Framework is in essence an enabling framework to encourage
the development of a meaningful community electricity generation sector.
Measures included within this framework will consist of:

  • Financial supports including grants and soft loans
  • A trusted intermediary network to work with communities through the various stages of projects
  • A trusted advisor network to be available to them to give them specialist advice such as legal and financial.
  • A trusted information source for a variety of "how-to" information guides.
  • A central point of contact organisation to co-ordinate all of these enabling services

SOURCE: Ireland’s Department of
Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE)