The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, has announced details of the first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction which has received Government approval.

The Climate Action Plan, published in June of this year, is the Government’s plan to give Irish people a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future.

The Plan sets out actions across every sector which will ensure we meet the country’s future climate commitments. A key part of the Plan is a move to 70 per cent renewable electricity by 2030.

Minister Bruton said: “Ireland is currently 86 per cent reliant on fossil fuel. We must radically reduce this dependence and make the transition to cleaner, more renewable energy.

“We are exiting from peat and coal to generate electricity and moving to clean, renewable sources of power, like wind and solar. The Renewable Energy Support Scheme is a flagship Government policy 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.

“Today, I am announcing the details of the first auction under the Scheme. Installed wind capacity has grown by 50 per cent since 2015. This auction could see capacity grow further by 30 per cent in the next three years… This is the equivalent of powering up to 640,000 homes every day and will have a significant impact on delivering what we set out in the Climate Action Plan.”

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is an auction-based scheme that invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate.

The Government has agreed the proposed elements of the Scheme, which subject to state aid approval, will make up the first auction set to open next year.

  • Increasing Technology Diversity: The Scheme will be open to a range of technologies that will broaden the renewable energy mix and enhance the security of supply
  • Solar: The Government has approved the inclusion of a solar category, subject to state aid approval, which would represent approximately 10 per cent of the overall auction
  • Community-led category: The Government has approved the inclusion of a community category within the auction, subject to state aid approval of up to 30 GWh
  • Community Participation: An obligatory community benefit fund scheme will provide opportunities for communities to play their part in Ireland’s renewable energy transition

The first auction is set to open early next year, subject to State Aid approval and will deliver up to a 3,000 GWh increase in renewable electricity generation by the end of 2022.

Community participation

Every project developer will be obligated to contribute to a Community Benefit Fund at a rate of €2 per Mega Watt hour (MWhr) every year. This will generate a minimum amount of up to €6m for communities living in close proximity to renewable projects each year.

The RESS will also mandate that Irish citizens or communities will have access to investment opportunities in renewable energy projects, prioritising those citizens that live in close proximity to the projects. The Minister expects to announce further details on this aspect in the New Year.