The Irish Government has announced the first renewable electricity support scheme (RESS) to enable community groups get into power generation. The scheme is designed to enable a significant expansion of onshore and offshore wind and solar-powered generation over the next decade, including “citizen energy” options. The Government said that the scheme was critical to achieving the goal of 70 per cent of Irish electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030, a key element of its climate action plan.
The Government has approved key features of the scheme which, subject to State aid approval by the EU, will make up the first auction set to open next year. Under the system, energy providers bid for contracts, while communities will be allowed to bid and be paid for power they generate locally. The community element allows schools, sports clubs, small businesses, and individual farmers to participate. Smaller projects involving roof-top solar systems will be supported under a microgeneration scheme that has not yet been announced.
Richard Briton, Minister of Climate Action and the Environment, said: “Ireland is currently 86 per cent reliant on fossil fuel. We must radically reduce this dependence and make the transition to cleaner, more renewable energy. We are exiting from peat and coal to generate electricity, and moving to clean, renewable sources of power, like wind and solar. RESS is a flagship Government policy designed to deliver on our commitments to decarbonise our electricity grid, harness our natural resources, and bring renewable energy into the heart of our communities.”