Nineteen new wind farms and 63 solar power projects have won contracts under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS-1), according to provisional results of the scheme’s first auction.
Under the scheme, wind farms and solar farms bid against each other for contracts of up to 16.5 years with only those promising to deliver power at the best value eligible to win contracts.
The provisional price announced by EirGrid for contracts in the “general pot” was €74.08, which represents the average bid price of wind farms and solar projects.
The price of €74.08 (non-indexed) is well under the existing cost of the previous REFIT support scheme which, as of 2019, was €80.25 (indexed). A total of 2,236 GWh of energy was available in the auction with onshore wind winning 1,469 GWh and solar winning 767 GWh. This works out at 479 MW of wind and 796 MW of solar – as the former is able to produce far more electricity per MW.
Minister for Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan welcomed the outcome. "While these results remain subject to Government approval, the first RESS auction provides us with a platform for rapid deployment of onshore wind and solar projects at scale and at least cost, replacing fossil fuels on our energy grid," he added.
Seven communities including farmer-led projects are being supported to produce their own power “and share in the ownership of Ireland’s energy revolution while inspiring others to follow”, Mr Ryan said.
Volumes procured sets Ireland on the right trajectory to achieve the ambitious 70 per cent renewable electricity target by 2030, he said. "This will be crucial to Ireland's contribution towards an EU wide renewable energy target of 32 per cent by 2030 and to the 7 per cent per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030."
A community benefit fund will deliver €4.5million a year to sustainable community initiatives targeted at those communities living in close proximity to the RESS-1 projects.
Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Dr David Connolly said the auction would deliver cheaper and greener energy to power Ireland's homes, farms and businesses.
“It is the first big step to connecting the additional 4,000 MW of onshore wind energy we need to develop by 2030 if we are to run our power system with 70 per cent renewable electricity.”