Wind Energy Ireland has welcomed the announcement that 14 wind farms have won contracts in the second auction under the government’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

However, the organisation called again on Government to work with industry to cut the price of renewable electricity in Ireland, which is significantly higher than in other European markets.

The new wind farms will deliver 414 MW of the 4,000 MW of new onshore wind energy required by the Climate Action Plan.

Green jobs

Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, said: “This is a big step towards delivering the Climate Action Plan. It means more clean power for our homes, communities and businesses, greater energy security and more green jobs in Ireland.

“The average price of €97.87 is a lot less than half of the current average wholesale electricity prices which have been driven over €200 since the start of the year by our reliance on imported gas. Renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels and, once built, these projects will be a huge help to Irish electricity consumers.”

The average price for renewable energy projects in the RESS 2 auction of €97.87 was up 32% on 2020.

While international commodity prices played a role in driving up prices in the second RESS auction, industry highlighted that most of the factors responsible for the price increase are within the power of Government.

“Successful auctions elsewhere in Europe index-link their prices but in Ireland wind and solar farms need to bid a price that will cover the next 15 years of inflation which is impossible to predict. Index-linking auctions means lower prices and greater transparency for consumers, and we’ve called for this since the RESS auction framework was first put in place.

“Ireland’s electricity grid must urgently be reinforced as a lack of grid capacity is driving up prices. EirGrid’s Shaping Our Electricity Future grid strategy does little to strengthen the electricity grid for onshore renewable energy and this needs to be updated before the next auction. The weaker the grid, the more power is lost, forcing projects to charge more for the power they can produce.”

Policy recommendations

More than two years ago Wind Energy Ireland published their Saving Money report, which shows how renewable energy in Ireland could be delivered for half the price and called for a high-level cross-government group to work with industry to agree policy recommendations to cut the price of renewable electricity and to report to the cabinet within six months.

Cunniffe continued: “We still believe this is the best way to enable wind and solar farms to deliver power at the lowest possible price for consumers whose electricity bills are continuing to increase due to imported gas prices.

“In the aftermath of today’s auction results we are again calling on the government to work with us to ensure that future RESS auctions continue to deliver on our renewable energy ambitions, but do so at a much better price for consumers.”