EXPRESS #2 - August 7, 2018
The Irish government has approved a new renewable electricity support scheme that will start with a first auction for capacity next year, notes ReNews.
Energy Minister Denis Naughten said the system, known as RESS, will support new green generation, including offshore wind and solar for the first time, to 2030.
According to Recharge News, the scheme has been generally received positively by the renewables sector, with one big caveat. Ireland will hold general renewables auctions, rather than technology-specific ones. This could hold back offshore wind and solar, insiders fear.
“The government hopes a first auction in 2019 will spur rapid development of ‘shovel ready’ onshore renewables projects to help the country meet its 40% EU renewable power target by 2020, with offshore wind set to play a role in Ireland’s ambitions out to 2030”, writes Recharge.
The new scheme will replace the renewable energy feed-in tariff (REFIT) support. It is designed to incentivise the introduction of sufficient renewable power generation to meet national and EU-wide clean energy and decarbonisation targets out to 2030.
“RESS has been approved by government and I will now seek EU state aid approval. This scheme will mark a shift from guaranteed fixed prices for renewable generators to a more market-oriented mechanism (auctions) where the cost of support will be determined by competitive bidding between renewable generators,” said Naughten.
“While the auction approach will provide a route to market for multiple technologies, it will do so in a competitive, cost effective framework,” said Naughten. “The use of certain ‘levers’, such as near term delivery dates and ‘single technology caps’, will accelerate the broadening of the renewable technology mix, particularly in light of falling costs for a number of renewable technologies.”
The RESS auctions will be held at frequent intervals throughout the lifetime of the scheme, notes Recharge. “This will allow Ireland to take advantage of falling technology costs and by not auctioning all the required capacity at once, will not be ‘locking in’ higher costs for consumers for the entirety of the scheme. The new scheme will provide for a renewable electricity ambition of up to a maximum of 55% by 2030, subject to determining a cost-effective level, which will be set out in Ireland’s draft National Energy and Climate Plan.”
Stephen Wheeler, managing director of SSE Ireland, said that “while the new RESS is a significant step forward in Ireland’s support for offshore wind energy, SSE has significant concerns that the potential size of the future individual auctions as outlined may be too small to allow large-scale offshore wind projects to commercially progress forward. On this basis, SSE encourages the government to implement a technology-specific category for offshore wind, which it has included as an option in today’s outline design.”
Michael Phillips, principal consultant at renewable energy consultancy Dulas, said: “It’s widely anticipated that Ireland will struggle to meet its 2020 carbon emissions targets, but the new RESS should go some way towards helping the country build out its clean energy capacity and reduce its dependence on energy imported from overseas. “However, the devil is in the detail – the absence of technology-specific auctions will likely see the nascent solar sector underperform when up against a more established onshore wind market, and the new scheme does not address the potential of the domestic renewables sector to contribute to indigenous energy supplies.”