Ireland to open its second renewable electricity auction by end of 2021

29 Oct 2021

Image: © Soonthorn/Stock.adobe.com

Ireland’s second RESS auction is expected to deliver up to 3,500GWh in renewable electricity generation by the end of 2024.

The Government is launching a second Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction to support Ireland’s ambition of having 80pc electricity come from renewable sources by 2030.

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.

Future Human

In the first RESS auction last year, 82 renewable energy projects were approved including approximately 160 new onshore wind turbines and 1,750 hectares of solar panels.

A second auction is one of the key actions to be set out in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2021, expected to be announced by the Government in the coming weeks. The plan will set targets, measures and actions across every sector to meet commitments under the new climate action legislative framework.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, TD, said that increasing dependence on renewable energy will insulate Ireland from the volatility of international gas and carbon prices, which are near an all-time high.

“We are exiting from generating electricity from peat and coal and moving to clean, renewable sources of power, like wind and solar,” he said.

“The RESS auctions have been 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.”

The second RESS auction has been brought forward from the initial timetable published in June and is now set to be open before the end of the year. It is expected to deliver up to 3,500GWh in renewable electricity generation by the end of 2024.

The sooner the better

Industry groups Renewable Energy Ireland and Wind Energy Ireland have welcomed the Government’s decision to bring the auction date forward to the end of this year, several months ahead of schedule.

Dr Tanya Harrington, chair of Renewable Energy Ireland, said the last six months have driven home the message that Ireland needs to accelerate the development of renewable energy in the early part of this decade.

“The sooner it [the auction] opens, the more quickly we can build and connect the wind and solar farms that will enable Ireland to reach our 2030 renewable energy target,” she said.

Wind Energy Ireland praised the second RESS auction for having a far larger volume than the first one – meaning that more wind and solar farms can be successful this time.

“Rising electricity prices and recent concerns around the security of Ireland’s energy supply have made it more important than ever that we connect more wind energy as quickly as possible,” said Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland.

He added that nearly 1,000MW worth of wind energy projects with full planning permission will be looking to compete in the auction. “More wind energy means lower carbon emissions, cheaper electricity, increased security of Ireland’s electricity supply and more jobs at home.”

Earlier this week, the Climate Change Advisory Council proposed Ireland’s first carbon budget to reduce emissions by 4.8pc each year until 2025, in line with the commitment of reaching a 51pc reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 2018 levels.

It came ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, which is starting this weekend.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com