The NFLA All Ireland Forum has submitted its views today to the Government on its consultation over establishing a financial support scheme to achieve a more rapid uptake of renewable energy across Ireland. (1)
Following publication of its Climate Mitigation Plan, the Government is now seeking views on establishing support mechanisms which can assist the development of renewable electricity technologies. NFLA welcomes this consultation from the Government, which is important and timely. Ireland has been ‘behind the game’ in this area in comparison with other European countries who have used renewable support schemes to rapidly increase the development of various types of renewable electricity generation.
It is critical that new support mechanisms are put in place if, in 2030, Ireland is to avoid a failure to meet its low carbon target commitments as it will in 2020, with all the additional penalties that will entail. The NFLA believes the Government has to widen the range and support to given to other forms of renewable electricity beyond onshore wind.
The key conclusions the NFLA wants the Government to enact from its submission are:
- In the immediate future technologically neutral auctions are likely to favour onshore wind over other less well developed renewables. Solar, offshore wind and other more nascent technologies may not be able to compete against the cheapest renewable.
- Eirgrid predicts that solar farms will reach grid parity by the mid-2020s, but this is too late to have an impact on the renewable targets for 2020.
Solar energy is key to Ireland reaching its 2020 targets and avoid fines of up to €300m per year from Europe. It is estimated that 1500MW of solar farms could be built by 2022, which equates to 5 per cent of Ireland’s electricity demand.
- The Irish Government, therefore, should give solar farms priority access to RESS funding over the next 5 to 10 years.
- Plans to increase community ownership and participation are to be welcomed. Community groups will need more than just money and developing a thriving community and co-operative energy infrastructure should be a major Government objective.
- The Energy Minister Denis Naughten is reported to have asked the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to examine how best micro-generation can be supported before a policy framework is designed – but this appears to apply to just householders rather than public authorities. Local authorities and municipalities should be supported and encouraged to develop projects which can apply for a Feed-in Premium as quickly as possible, and where appropriate in co-operation with community energy groups.
NFLA All Ireland Forum Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
“I welcome this consultation from the Government as it finally understands the urgency with which to support renewable energy now requires much more central support. The experience of renewable take-up in other European states shows support mechanisms for renewable electricity have played a pivotal part in encouraging individuals, companies and Councils to develop innovative and large schemes and dramatically increase renewable energy generation. I urge the Government to widen out its support to not just include wind energy but to give a much more prominent role to solar power, whose price has been rapidly falling and which is proving to be central to the global renewable energy revolution. Community energy and local authority–led energy schemes are similarly important and would bring greater public acceptance and support to the need for low carbon electricity. Our NFLA All Ireland Forum meetings have shown to me that there is a huge appetite to supporting the renewable revolution across our Councils but that they need the tools to do it. I hope now those tools will be provided.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors: