SSE has welcomed the approval of the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) in Ireland, however, the company said it had concerns that the potential size of the future individual auctions outlined in the RESS design “may be too small to allow large-scale offshore wind projects to commercially progress forward.”
“On this basis, SSE encourages the Government to implement a technology-specific category for offshore wind which it has included as an option in today’s outline design,” said Stephen Wheeler, SSE Ireland Managing Director.
When the new scheme was introduced in 2017, Stephen Wheeler, warned that a technology-neutral approach would put Ireland’s aim of meeting its 2020 renewable energy target at risk, as technologies such as onshore and offshore wind would be competing against each other “on a pure cost-per-MWh basis” while offshore wind can deliver larger scale of future renewable energy capacity. At the time, in a piece published by Irish Independent, Wheeler made a case for a technology-specific auction category in the new scheme that would create an investment environment for offshore wind energy.
Nevertheless, the new scheme is a significant step forward in Ireland’s support for offshore wind energy, according to Wheeler.
“We are pleased that the Government’s new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme will provide continued support for onshore wind energy and opens up support for offshore wind energy in upcoming competitive auction rounds, which we have been advocating for some time. Also, as Ireland’s leading provider of community funding through renewable energy, we welcome the increased focus on community engagement and benefit under the new scheme,” Wheeler said.
Ireland currently has only one operational offshore wind farm, the 25MW Arklow Bank, developed by SSE and partners, and two consented projects, one of which is SSE’s 495MW Arklow Bank 2.
In 2017, Ireland’s state owned electricity company Electricity Supply Board (ESB) unveiled plans to develop or acquire the offshore wind projects commencing in 2018, through a pipeline of offshore wind farms going through the consenting process. In February 2018, ESB-owned Hibernian Wind Power applied for two investigative foreshore licences, aiming to examine the feasibility of building a 500MW offshore wind farm (or wind farms) off Ireland’s East Coast.
Furthermore, an independent renewable energy developer, Element Power, entered the offshore wind market in April 2018, by taking over the development of the North Irish Sea Array (NISA) offshore wind site in the Irish Sea from Gaelectric. The NISA site is located off the east coast of Ireland and has a potential capacity of up to 750MW.
Offshore WIND Staff