Green energy auction a ‘big step’

Nineteen new wind farms around the country have provisionally secured contracts under the State’s new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme.

The scheme, which counts as State aid, received final approval from the European Commission last month. It forms part of a Government plan to see 70pc of Ireland’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030.

The auction for capacity allocation under the scheme was handled by EirGrid, the semi-State company that manages the national grid.

The first auction under the scheme saw wind and solar farms compete for capacity where they will receive a guaranteed price for the power they generate. The price is effectively underwritten by the public service obligation levy paid by consumers.

The final results of the first auction are expected to be announced on September 10, with participants having two days to submit a notice to Eamon Ryan, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, if they are dissatisfied with the provisional auction outcome.

The Irish Wind Energy Association said that 2,236 gigawatt hours of energy was available under the auction. Wind farms secured 1,469 gigawatt  hours, while solar farms were awarded 767. That equated to 479MW for wind, and 796MW for solar, with wind farms typically being more efficient.

Dr David Connolly, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association, said the auction result was the “first big step” to connecting an additional four gigawatts of onshore wind energy to the grid.

“This was Ireland’s first renewable energy auction and we have already identified changes that could be made to deliver lower prices,” he insisted.

“A number of industry sources have pointed, for example, to the decision not to index prices as having pushed up costs by as much as €10 to €12 per MWh,” he claimed. “Others had to account for the possibility that the transmission grid will not be strengthened in the coming years which would lead to wind generators being turned down or off as the system struggles to cope with rising levels of renewables.”

“There are also a number of policy changes that the new Government can make that could halve the price of renewable electricity in Ireland,” said Dr Connolly.

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