80 wind and solar projects have provisionally been awarded support under the second Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS 2), according to the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

Announcing the provisional results, the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, said that the volumes of renewable energy that will be produced from these plants will put Ireland on course to achieve its renewable energy target of 80% by 2030.

The second scheme of its kind, RESS 2, used an auction process to determine which renewable energy projects in Ireland received financial backing. Of the 153 projects that applied to the scheme, 130 qualified to participate in the auction; 80 of these were provisionally successful in securing support.

These include 66 solar projects which will generate approximately 1,534MW of solar energy, and 14 onshore wind developments which will equate to about 414MW of wind energy. Combined, this represents a potential increase of almost 20% in Ireland’s generation of renewable energy.

According to the DECC, meeting the 80% target could create more than 7,000 jobs and contribute an additional €550 million gross value to the Irish economy via the onshore wind sector alone.

Minister Ryan welcomed the results and said while they are still subject to government, the successful projects will help to protect thousands of Irish homes from high fossil fuel prices.

“Renewable energy delivered under the scheme will shield consumers from high prices, reduce our dependency on imported fossil fuels in the context of the phasing out of Russian energy imports across the EU and contribute to communities across the country,” he said.

“Ireland is a world leader in onshore wind, with the third highest wind generation in the world.

“Now is the time to accelerate renewables to meet our climate targets, to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and to deliver benefits to communities across the country,” he added.

Renewable plant construction costs

Within the ‘All Projects’ category of the RESS 2 auction, the average weighted bid price was €97.87/MWh, an increase on the average bid price from the first renewable energy scheme.

This is largely due to the dramatic increases in the price of the raw materials required for the construction of these projects including steel, copper and polysilicon.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the price of PV-grade polysilicon has quadrupled, steel prices have increased by 50%, copper prices have risen by 70%, aluminum prices have doubled and freight costs are up almost fivefold.

The IEA estimated the overall investment cost of new utility scale PV and onshore wind plants are 15-20% higher in 2022 than 2020. Speaking about the higher costs of developing renewable energy plants, Minister Ryan said:

“International inflationary pressures have contributed to higher auction prices than under RESS 1 and these costs will need to be monitored.

“However, renewables are still much cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives and will drive down costs of electricity to households and businesses,” he concluded.

The final results of the auction will be announced on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.