Ireland launches second renewables auction


Ireland's Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has launched the country's second auction for large-scale renewable energy projects.

“The qualification process for Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) 2 is now complete and the auction opened this morning (Friday, April 29), with final results due in mid-June,” the ministry said in a statement. “It is anticipated that RESS 2 will deliver a significant increase in the proportion of renewable generation delivered by solar – by the end of 2024.”

The Irish government explained that the new auction will not include, as in the first auction, a standalone preference category for PV. That allowed solar projects to compete on a like-for-like basis with other solar projects, rather than competing with wind, which is a well-established industry in Ireland. The ministry said this choice was due to the low competitive costs shown by solar in the first auction.

“In RESS 2 – the second scheme – the design of the auction has been modified, removing the standalone solar preference category and, instead, utilizing an evaluation correction factor (ECF),” the government said. “The ECF is intended to reflect the relative benefits that each type of technology (and the diversity that they bring) has on system costs.”

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The auction announcement coincided with the commissioning of the first solar project from the first REES renewables auction, which was held in August 2020. French renewable energy developer Neoen built the 8 MW facility near Ashford in County Wicklow, in southeastern Ireland.

“This is the first of many solar projects expected to energize under the RESS this year,” said Eamon Ryan, the minister of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. “It’s a key starting point on our journey, under the Climate Action Plan, to install up to 2.5 GW of solar energy on the electricity system by 2030.”

In the first renewables auction, the Irish authorities allocated 796 MW of generating capacity. The average weighted bid price for the technology-neutral auction was €74.08 ($78)/MWh. Project developers secure feed-in premiums to top up the wholesale power price for 14 to 16.5 years, depending on project delivery dates.

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