- Ireland has adopted its new Climate Action Plan under which it aims to increase its renewable energy share to 70% by 2030
- On-grid solar energy capacity will contribute up to 1.5 GW while onshore wind and offshore wind will add up to 8.2 GW and at least 3.5 GW, respectively
- Competitive auctions under Renewable Electricity Support Scheme will determine the exact level of offshore & onshore wind, solar PV and other renewables
- A micro generation for solar PV installations will be put in place building on a pilot micro-generation grant scheme
The Government of Ireland has set itself on course to achieve 70% share of renewables in its total energy mix by 2030 to be able to realize its objective of net zero GHG emissions by 2050, increasing from the current share of 30%.
Under its Climate Action Plan, Ireland estimates its renewables capacity to reach 12 GW by 2030, with on-grid solar energy contributing up to 1.5 GW. Onshore wind is expected to install up to 8.2 GW and offshore wind is supposed to add at least 3.5 GW.
According to the Global Market Outlook 2019-2023 report by SolarPower Europe, at the end of 2018 cumulative installed solar PV capacity of Ireland was 50 MW which it expects to increase to 2.7 GW by 2023 (see SolarPower Europe: 800 GW New PV By 2023).
The renewables share will be increased under Ireland’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) that has been designed to decarbonize the electricity grid. Competitive auctions will ultimately decide the exact the level of offshore & onshore wind, solar PV and other renewables to determine the lowest cost. The administration makes it mandatory to meet 15% electricity demand by renewable sources contracted under corporate power purchase agreements (PPA).
The RESS is expected to support up to an additional 4.5 GW of renewable electricity by 2030. Competitive auctions under the RESS are expected to be launched by the end of 2019 when the window for applications will be opened.
Ireland’s government had been contemplating a move towards auctions for long now. In September 2017 it invited public feedback on the proposed RESS (see Ireland Heading Auction Way).
The plan also involves a pilot micro-generation grant scheme for solar PV, targeting self-consumption. Consumers that plan to install such systems will be eligible for a grant of approximately 30% of the installation costs for individual homes. Building on the pilot, the government wants to put in place an ongoing support scheme for micro-generation by 2021.
In early 2020, electricity market rules will be changed to enable micro-generated electricity to be sold to the grid with provision for a feed-in-tariff (FIT). In August 2018, Ireland introduced its micro generation pilot scheme for residential PV installations with additional grants for battery storage (see Ireland Launches Micro Generation Scheme).
Another important aspect of the plan is phasing out coal- and peat-fired electricity generation plants to make way for renewables.
“We are currently 85% dependent on fossil fuels. This plan sets out radical reforms, which will cut our reliance on carbon, making our businesses more competitive, our homes more sustainable and our farms more efficient. We will be doing things in new, innovative ways,” said Minister Richard Bruton. “Most of the actions set out will actually save money in the long-run. We will now implement this Plan, rolling out the required actions through a sustained effort.”
There will be quarterly reporting of actions taken to realize these goals and the plan itself will be annually updated. Every public body will be given a climate action mandate by their line minister to prioritize climate action, and new letters of expectation will be issued to semi-state bodies to get every government authority on the same page.
Failure to implement these policies to meet the country’s legally binding European Union targets could cost up to €1.75 billion ($1.96 billion) to the exchequer over the next decade as well as ‘locking Ireland into a future high carbon trajectory’.
The Climate Action Plan can be viewed on the website of the Irish government.