On Tuesday, 24 July, the Irish government approved a new scheme that will support renewable energy projects through a series of auction, with the first competitive process scheduled to take place in 2019 and set to deliver 'shovel ready' projects.
The scheme will provide pathways for renewable developers including offshore wind projects as it sets out the indicative timelines and volumes for auctions over the coming decade and provides clarity for developers in relation to when they need to have their projects 'auction ready', according to Ireland's Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), which introduced the scheme in 2017.
"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 Denis Naughten, Ireland's Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
The new scheme is said to have been designed to incentivise the introduction of sufficient renewable electricity generation to contribute to Ireland’s 2020 renewable energy targets and to achieve both the country's and EU-wide renewable energy ambitions for 2030.
The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) will also deliver broader energy policy objectives including: enhancing security of supply; diversifying the renewable technology mix, and increasing community participation in and benefit from renewable energy projects, DCCAE states.
Projects looking for support under the new RESS will need to meet pre-qualification criteria including offering the community an opportunity to invest in and take ownership of a portion of renewable projects in their local area. A national register of community benefit payments will also be established.
According to DCCAE, the development of the new RESS included an in-depth study of international best practice, across Denmark, Germany, Canada and Scotland, since these countries are world leaders in community-led renewable electricity projects.
Minister Naughten said that, now that RESS has been approved by the government, he will seek EU State Aid approval.