Ireland to fall short of existing climate targets under BaU approach

Published on 13 September, a report by the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has called for a new policy system to enable the rapid deployment of renewable electricity. The third in a series of four studies which make up the 70by30 Implementation Plan, Building Onshore Wind identifies policy changes required for Ireland to deliver the Climate Action Plan.

Undertaking a comprehensive survey of IWEA membership to establish the current wind energy pipeline, an IWEA Pipeline Analysis Tool (i-PAT) examined how the pipeline would convert into annual MW capacity of onshore wind. The survey revealed that approximately 4,200MW of onshore wind would be installed by the end of 2020, yet an additional 4,000MW will be required by 2030 to meet the Climate Action Plan’s target of 8,200MW.

A Business as Usual (BaU) scenario was developed based on present timelines, which revealed that Ireland will reach a cumulative consented volume of 3,880MW, falling short of existing targets. The report cites low success rates in An Bord Pleanála’s Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) process, high pre-planning attrition and “relatively long consenting durations.” The 2020 figure also encompasses the cumulative consented wind that will not be built under REFIT.

IWEA identified nine policy improvements to enable Ireland to deliver the Climate Action Plan (Table 1). If all improvements are implemented, the results can be seen in Figure 1. Modelled as the ‘Climate Action Plan’ scenario in i-PAT, it has quantified the additional capacity from the onshore wind pipeline that can be energised in each year to 2030.

However, Figure 2 outlines the onshore wind capacity that will be lost in 2030 along with the additional carbon emissions that will be created if any individual policy fails.

IWEA noted that policies with the greatest impact to reach Ireland’s 8,200MW target for onshore wind in 2030 are: providing enough grid connection offers, developing the transmission grid in parallel with wind farms, and providing an annual route to market via RESS auctions or Corporate PPAs.

To counteract Ireland’s lack of transmission capacity, the report called on EirGrid to further grid reinforcements based on the strength of the future renewables pipeline, and to deliver a timeline to address the needs of the grid, which can be factored in RESS auction bids. A new EirGrid strategy tailored towards grid development will also be required; as well as the exploration of alternative network solutions to drive down costs. To ensure the delivery of renewable capacity needed for 70% RES-E by 2030, appropriate longstop dates will also provide projects with the flexibility to enter multiple auctions. The report finds that if onshore wind is excluded from RESS auctions, it will likely rely on Corporate PPAs. Regular RESS auctions in parallel to an active CPPA market will therefore be essential for Ireland to meet its 2030 targets.

With this in mind, IWEA recommended for the DCCAE to issue a new RESS timeline which promotes annual RESS auctions according to the volume of renewable generation available each year. This will encompass auction quantities to be set using pipeline surveys for onshore, offshore and solar generation. It should also be clarified which auctions will have technology specific preference categories. IWEA’s analysis showcased that onshore renewables would need to compete in annual RESS auctions, particularly to assist in meeting the 2022 and 2025 interim renewable electricity targets.

To resolve commercial barriers to developing renewables, IWEA called for a reduction in the cost of developing renewable electricity to become more competitive with fossil fuels in Ireland and renewable electricity in other markets. A task force should also be established across policymaking, the regulator, System Operators and renewable electricity generators to lower ongoing costs. To counteract regulatory barriers, IWEA proposed for Guarantees of Origin (GoO) to be available to generators to transfer to offtakers under a Corporate PPA and for the CRU to provide clarity on the use of Private Wires in Ireland. Additionally, to make it a condition of planning permission or a grid connection offer that a Large Energy User with a demand in excess of 5MW must procure a CPPA with a renewable electricity generator.

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