Minister Naughten publishes public consultation on new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS)
05 September 2017
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, T.D., is today publishing a public consultation on the design of a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).
The new scheme is being developed to incentivise the introduction of sufficient renewable electricity generation to meet national and EU-wide renewable energy and decarbonisation targets out to 2030.
Reflecting a broader movement towards greater public and citizen engagement in relation to energy policy, the emerging principles of the scheme are now being presented for public consultation.
In the course of developing this consultation document, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment commissioned two studies – the first by Cambridge Economic Policy Associates (CEPA) offered an economic assessment of renewable technologies while the second by Ricardo Energy and Environment (Ricardo) assessed support models for community ownership of renewable energy in Ireland. Both of these reports are available to view on the Departments website.
On the basis of these studies, a range of policy measures have been identified and the Department is now seeking public feedback on these. As the consultation paper presents the emerging approach to the design principles of the new RESS, Minister Denis Naughten strongly encourages all stakeholders to submit their views before the deadline of 3 November 2017.
The new scheme will be designed to increase community and citizen participation in the energy transition to a low carbon economy. Communities and citizens will actively participate in and benefit from renewable energy projects in their local area. The consultation sets out a number of policy options to support both community-led projects and developer-led projects with material community involvement. These options reflect both extensive community engagement at home and the experience of countries such as Denmark, Canada and Scotland who are world leaders in promoting community participation in renewable electricity projects.
The new scheme will be designed to help realise the Government’s objective of broadening the renewable energy mix. As renewable technologies mature and costs fall, Ireland is well placed to take advantage and greatly diversify its renewable portfolio. However, as some technologies will cost more than others to deliver, public opinion is being sought now for its views on how quickly, and how deeply, this diversification ambition should be progressed.
In the course of preparing the new scheme, opportunities for micro and small-scale generation have been explored. Financial mechanisms have been investigated, and the experience of other EU member states in reforming network structures and charges, dealing with cost burden-sharing and ensuring just compensation for self-generating consumers, have been examined. The economic evidence indicates that meeting Ireland’s renewable electricity targets and renewable diversity ambitions are more cost-effectively achieved at large and medium scale. As a result, micro-generation has not been included directly under the emerging principles of the new RESS. However Minister Naughten remains committed to finding a correct mechanism for developing small and micro-scale generation in Ireland. To progress it, the Minister has asked the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to facilitate a workshop on micro-scale generation on 17 October 2017. Government fully recognises the wider societal benefit that micro and small-scale generation can play in both increasing acceptance of and promoting renewable energy projects. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, in collaboration with SEAI, will develop a policy position on how best to support small and micro-scale generation.
The new RESS will largely be shaped by EU State Aid Guidelines which call for competitive auctions and bidding between project developers for state support. However, the Department can further impose downward pressure on renewable electricity costs by designing a scheme that takes best advantage of falling renewable technology costs and increases public acceptance. The proposed design allows the Government to control both the costs and the level of RES-E ambition. It is highly flexible, can respond to market-driven outcomes, and take advantage of maturing technologies.
Launching the public consultation, Minister Denis Naughten stated: “The scale of transformation needed to meet our low carbon transition targets cannot be overstated. If we are to reach those targets, we must harness the combined efforts of the entire country. Industry, of course, has a key role to play in bringing to market technology options that deliver, at scale, solutions to minimise and manage costs for households and businesses alike. But industry cannot do this alone. My Department has listened to citizens, to communities and to other stakeholder groups. They have developed an emerging approach to how Ireland can best achieve its renewable electricity ambitions, taking value for money, sustainability and security of supply into account, as key policy drivers. It is an approach that I believe will allow us to achieve our renewable electricity ambitions. The consultation for this emerging approach to the new scheme is now open. I strongly encourage all stakeholders to have their say on a developing policy of great importance, one which will impact us all.”
You can view full details regarding the Public Consultation along with supplementary documentation.