Fresh Ireland renewables auction details emerge

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Image: Getty.

Further details surrounding Ireland’s long-awaited Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auctions have been released, including critical compliance and process information.

Yesterday Ireland’s Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) published its draft terms for the first round of auctions under the RESS, confirming various eligibility criteria and the process the auction is to take.

Earlier this month the DCCAE finally confirmed preliminary details for the maiden RESS, confirming a carve-out for solar projects and loose timelines.

Further details have now been released, confirming some of the pre-requisite details projects will need to confirm prior to competing in the Contracts for Difference auction-styled process.

The auction itself will be administered by Ireland’s transmission system operator EirGrid. The body will also decide on project qualifications for the auction, inviting qualifying projects to submit formal bid bonds prior to the auction date.

Bid bonds will take the form of a strike price – the lowest price at which the project can export electricity – ensuring projects a top-up payment should the country’s wholesale price dip below that figure.

Settlement periods will be hourly, and qualifying projects must commit to having meters installed by the TSO or relevant DSO.

In addition, projects must have full planning consent and a grid connection in order to compete, and developers must provide evidence of a project’s ‘financeability’ in order to apply. This can take the form of evidence of investment or sufficient equity to complete the project in question.

Solar projects must be between 1MW and 125MW in capacity to be considered.

There will be three separate categories for auctions, namely Community, Solar and All. Priority will be given to community projects first, then solar, and then other generation technologies falling into the ‘All’ pot, such as wind and hydro.

While the solar pot has no minimum auction result, a maximum of 300GWh – equivalent to around 300MW – will be contracted for within the first auction.

The full terms and conditions document can be found here.

Ireland’s RESS has been long in the making and details have been eagerly anticipated for a number of years. While a dedicated carve out for solar was welcomed, the Irish Solar Energy Association has said a limit of 10% of the auction’s total was “disappointing” considering the scale of ambition needed to meet Ireland’s decarbonisation targets.

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