EU approves State aid for Irish Renewable Electricity Support Scheme

21 Jul 2020300 Views

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A scheme classed as a ‘flagship’ measure in Ireland’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions will receive EU backing for the next five years.

The Government has welcomed the European Commission’s (EC) approval of State aid for the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), which was launched in March. RESS is a competitive, auction-based scheme that invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate for a maximum of 16 years.

RESS will operate for the next five years, with the potential for an extension, and will set out the timelines and volumes for auctions over the coming period. Similar schemes have been instrumental in nations such as Denmark for establishing significant wind energy infrastructure.

With an estimated total budget of between €7.2bn and €12.5bn, all eligible renewables technologies will compete for subsidies in these auctions with the aim of driving down costs through competition.

The auction bidding stage commences from today (21 July) with expectations that a minimum of four auctions will be held between 2020 and 2025 to help meet the country’s 2030 targets. Under the Climate Action Plan revealed last year, the aim is to have 70pc of Ireland’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030.

Funding community projects

The scheme is open to a range of renewable technologies with the aim of broadening the renewables mix and enhancing security of supply. The Government said it will give preference to energy from solar, as well as from offshore wind, on the basis of the longer-term potential of these technologies for the country. RESS also includes supports for the development of community-led renewable energy projects of up to 30GWh that can be sold back into the national grid.

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Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan, TD, said he was “delighted” with the decision.

“As stated in the Programme for Government, we have committed to an average 7pc per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 and to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

“The RESS is one of the flagship measures that will assist Ireland on its way to achieving this target.”

Announcing its decision, the EC said that the aid is necessary and will have an incentive effect through competitive auctions.

The EC’s executive vice-president, Margrethe Vestager, said: “RESS will contribute to Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon and environmentally sustainable economy, in line with the European Green Deal and our state aid rules.”

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com