New requirement announced for community category of RESS auctions

All projects applying to the community category in future Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) auctions must be 100% community-owned, Minister Eamon Ryan has announced.

The RESS provides support to renewable electricity projects in Ireland. The scheme uses a competitive auction process to determine which generators receive support.

EirGrid ran the first auction under the new scheme at the end of July 2020. Of the 108 projects that submitted an offer price in respect of the auction, 82 projects had been deemed successful in the auction and 26 projects deemed unsuccessful.

Five solar energy and two onshore wind community projects were successful in the auction. Having approved the projects a number of months later, Minister Ryan said at the time that he expects the next auction “will have a higher share of community-based renewables”.

‘Communities will now be able to retain all the benefits’

Speaking today (Thursday, February 4), the minister said:

“This move signals yet further democratisation of our energy system. I urge communities with an interest in renewable energy to embrace this opportunity.

“Communities will now be able to retain all the benefits that are associated with generating their own electricity.

These benefits can provide a secure long-term financial boost to the community at large and allow reinvestment into securing the community’s long-term future.

“It is recognised that electricity generation is a complex task and especially so for communities.

“In that regard, an enabling framework of supports is being developed by the department and the SEAI [Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland], with details to be announced next month.

“Communities who have already worked collaboratively with commercial developers to initiate a project may still choose to maintain that collaboration on a contract for services basis.

“This is a terrific chance for communities to be part of Ireland’s change to a greener economy at a local level.”

The frequency of future RESS auctions is dependent on the renewable electricity project supply pipeline. It is envisaged that a minimum of four auctions will occur between 2020 and 2025 to deliver on the 2030 targets.