Minister Bruton Announces Scheme to Reach 70% Renewables

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 energy.

“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 year.

  • 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.

ISEA welcomes RESS Publication

Support Scheme maps out Ireland’s renewables plan to 2030

The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) welcomes the High Level Design Paper on RESS published by the Government on Tuesday 24 July. The proposals furnish positive signals for investment in Ireland across the renewables sector and makes history in providing initial government support for the Irish solar industry.

The design paper sets out a coherent and ambitious program for delivery of renewable energy out to 2030 and highlights the necessity for diversity in the energy mix. This is a key component in achieving energy targets and will deliver value for money for Irish consumers. ISEA also welcomes the proposal that Community will play a central role in the future deployment of renewables in Ireland.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) has advised that ongoing consultation with industry will be required to understand how best to deliver certain aspects of the support scheme. ISEA welcomes continued engagement with the Department to further evolve RESS.

There is more than 1GW of solar PV with planning permission and over 1.5GW with grid contracted or in process, ready to progress with the aid of this support scheme. RESS auctions are scheduled to begin in 2019. ISEA calls on the government to extend the capacity in the first auction to allow more projects receive support on time for completion in 2020. Without extending the capacity in the first auction Ireland is likely to miss its 2020 targets.

“Our members have spent a substantial amount of time and resources in developing these projects over the past number of years. Whilst we await some clarification and further detail, we do see RESS as a significant step in the right direction for the Irish renewables industry. As solar PV is the fastest deployable energy technology in the world, our members are looking forward to the prospect of making a major contribution towards achieving Ireland’s energy targets.” – Michael McCarthy, CEO, ISEA

The document sets out a target of 55% of electricity to be produced by renewable sources by 2030. If this target is achieved, Ireland would once again be viewed as a leader in the field of renewable energy. With the support of RESS, and the imminent SEAI rooftop solar PV grant scheme, the solar industry is expected to generate 7,000 new jobs over the coming years.

ISEA looks forward to working together with all stakeholders; DCCAE, the Commission for Regulation Utilities (CRU), EirGrid and ESB to ensure projects are delivered on time. We would urge the Department to ensure that adequate resources are made available to those tasked with achieving the ambitious targets set out in the High Level Design Paper.

Project Ireland 2040 – Empowering Communities

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., has today launched the Climate Action priority of Project Ireland 2040 “Empowering Communities for Climate Action” at an event in the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. Building on the 2017 National Mitigation Plan, the National Development Plan prioritises €21.8bn for climate action. This substantial investment will both require, and support, behavioural change in individual and communities across Ireland.

Minister Naughten was joined by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD who all have key roles in delivering on our climate objectives within their sectors.

The event included moderated panel discussions exploring the roles and opportunities for communities in the low carbon transition.

Read the press release
Read Denis Naughten T.D. speech transcript

European co-legislators seal ambitious deals

Following on from a very positive policy victory for the solar sector on the new Renewable Energy Directive, EU institutions have sealed an ambitious deal on the new renewable energy Governance Regulation and the Energy Efficiency Directive.

The future framework for the governance of the Energy Union establishes strong foundations to ensure that the ambitious renewable deal agreed last week will be effectively delivered by European Member States. European co-legislators took onboard SolarPower Europe’s key proposals, setting the scene for a bright solar future in Europe:

  • Member States are bound by linear trajectories to deliver on their 2030 renewable energy targets: 18% by 2022, 43% by 2025 and finally 65% of their national target will have to be achieved by 2027;
  • The EU Commission is empowered to take action if any gap arises towards the collective delivery of the 2030 renewable energy target and can require under-achieving Member States to put in place additional measures at national level.
  • The solar sector can rely on strong provisions guaranteeing long-term predictability for investors, Member States are required to present detailed 10-year energy strategy plans and update them every 5-years. Member States need to submit their National Energy and Climate Plans by 31 December 2018, with final approval by the European Commission by 31 December 2019.
  • Finally, and importantly, the EU Commission will present a strategy for 2050 National decarbonisation plans, building on a “renewables-based energy system”.

The Energy Efficiency Directive represents a turning point in the development of forward-looking regulation, acknowledging the contribution of on-site solar installations to a cleaner and more efficient building stock. This was SolarPower Europe’s major priority in the negotiations, and we are delighted to announce very positive results in this matter:

  • The provisional deal sets a 32.5% non-binding target by 2030 with a revision clause in 2023. This target will be achieved through binding requirements for Member States to deliver 0.8% annual savings until 2030;
  • Measures promoting the installation of small-scale solar technologies on or in buildings can be accounted towards the fulfilment of the 0,8% annual saving target, a major achievement, which will foster the development of smarter and cleaner buildings, powered by solar.
  • The future energy efficiency framework will foster the electrification of key sectors of the economy, creating significant opportunities for the solar sector to scale-up and prosper in Europe. The primary energy factor (PEF) for electricity is set at 2.1, reflecting the increasing penetration of renewable energies in the electricity system.