ESRI argues that the current Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) support scheme for renewable technologies such as offshore wind and wave and tidal generation should be ended, but it says the scheme should remain in place for onshore wind power.
In its A Review of Irish Energy Policy, the ESRI says the REFIT scheme for onshore wind is also too generous and that the additional sum payable where prices are high should be dropped for new investors.
It predicts that because ocean and tidal technology is only at the development stage, it should not play a major role in Ireland before 2020 at the earliest.
“Probably the most important change in the REFIT scheme should be the ending of REFIT incentives for offshore wind and wave and tidal generation. It is premature to incentivise substantial investment in such technologies and it could prove very expensive for the Irish economy, while bringing little or no environmental benefits. Meanwhile, limited taxpayer funds should be provided for research into these technologies as part of Ireland’s research effort.”
The ESRI says offshore wind technology needs substantial further development to bring down costs and to deal with maintenance problems and reliability.
The report says one of the key successes for the island of Ireland has been the implementation of the single electricity market (SEM).
However, it says new developments at the EU level may require a change in the market structure to facilitate trading in electricity across the EU.
“It will be important to ensure that the enhanced integration of the Irish electricity system with that of northwestern Europe benefits Irish consumers.”
EU-wise, the ESRI says Ireland should contribute to a review of EU policy on renewables to ensure it will deliver the required reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the future at the least cost to the EU economy.
It also says the SEM structure might need to be adjusted to ensure that the level of investment in intermittent renewable generation is appropriate.
Pointing to how EU policy on energy security is developing, the ESRI says the extension of the current arrangements for cross-country co-operation in the event of a shortage of oil to the gas market is important for Ireland.
“It is to be welcomed that the EU is also developing clear rules on gas transmission through member states. Domestic security of energy supply requires that the Corrib gas field is brought to production as rapidly as possible.”