Energy Update: Final Consultation On Ireland's Renewable Electricity Support Scheme

Author:Mr William Carmody, Eoin Cassidy and Peter McLay
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran
 
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The Irish Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE) has published what it describes as the "final" consultation on the design and development of a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) for Ireland. In the interests of securing the next generation of Irish renewable electricity project, interested parties are urged to engage with this process. This may be the final opportunity to do so and submissions or comments will be accepted up to 4pm on Friday, 3 November 2017.

The Irish government is pursuing a target of 40% electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 in order to meet the obligations imposed on Ireland by the 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive.  Between 2009 and 2015, the pursuit of this target was supported by the availability in Ireland of three REFIT feed-in tariff schemes. 

However, the last of the REFIT schemes closed to new applicants at the end of 2015. Since the publication of DCCAE's White Paper entitled 'Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030' (White Paper) in late 2015, the Irish government has repeatedly flagged its intention to develop a successor support scheme. The latest RESS consultation is a close-to-final stage in that development process. 

The new RESS scheme is being designed with the objectives of maintaining the target 2020 level of 40% RES-E out to 2030, as well as delivering sufficient renewable electricity to meet any additional national and EU renewable energy and decarbonisation targets that may be imposed.

In addition to attaining target volumes of renewable energy, and consistent with standard international practice, RESS aims to control support costs by setting strike prices through the use of auctions.

A RESS rehearsal

The RESS consultation is structured around an "emerging scheme design" which represents DCCAE's current position following an initial public consultation that it published in 2015, and a series of economic assessment papers that it has commissioned.

The key aspects of this design are:

Community participation as a condition of RESS support. Community participation in Irish renewable energy has been an expressed priority of DCCAE since its White Paper.  It is now proposed that a pre-qualification criterion for a project's participation in the RESS will be that "the community" has been offered an opportunity to invest in that project. A framework of "Trusted Intermediaries" and "Trusted Advisors" is also proposed in order...

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