Amarenco and SSE among groups to win green Eirgrid contracts

Some 80 projects won contracts with a guaranteed price for power

Amarenco and SSE Renewables have locked in guaranteed prices for green electricity projects in the latest bidding race for State supports.

National grid operator Eirgrid confirmed on Friday that 80 projects won contracts, with a guaranteed price for power, in the second Renewable Energy Support Scheme auction.

The scheme is meant to aid the development of wind and solar electricity projects in the Republic.

SSE Renewables-owned Green Wind Energy (Wexford) Ltd received a contract for its 104 mega watt (MW) Yellow River wind farm, which the London-listed group bought after it got through planning in 2019.

Industry figures calculate that one mega watt hour of electricity generated by renewables such as wind and solar can power around 400 average homes

Amarenco, the solar developer chaired by former Bord Gáis chief executive, John Mullins, got contracts for several projects with a total capacity of more than 33MW through the auction.

All projects that succeeded in the auction will get a guaranteed average price of €97.87 a mega watt hour, the unit in which electricity is sold on the wholesale market.

Industry figures calculate that one mega watt hour of electricity generated by renewables such as wind and solar can power around 400 average homes.

One of the bigger winners was Soleire, a developer founded and run by its chief executive Marcus Price, who previously worked in the renewable industry in the Republic and UK.

Soleire got backing for solar projects with a total capacity of 256.5 MW at Ballyroe, near Charleville in Co Cork and Erkina, close to Roscrea in Co Tipperary.

In all, 80 projects with the capacity to supply more than 2,700MW won contracts in the auction.

Cheapest generators

The RESS theoretically favours the cheapest generators by awarding contracts to projects that offer to produce electricity at the lowest prices. Successful projects are only paid the contracted price for their power.

It replaced the old renewable feed-in tariff system, which simply guaranteed a set minimum price.

Households and businesses pay for the scheme through a public service obligation levy on their electricity bills. However, current high power prices are likely to mean the levy will be set at zero later in the year.

Noel Cunniffe, chief executive of industry group Wind Energy Ireland, said 14 wind farms had won contracts in the auction.

“The average price of €97.87 is well under half of the current average wholesale electricity prices which have been driven over €200 since the start of the year by our reliance on imported gas,” he said.

Conall Bolger, chief executive of the Irish Solar Energy Association noted that 66 solar projects had succeeded in the auction.

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