September 27, 2023
Latest auction results ‘a total disaster that put renewable targets in serious jeopardy’ – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Environment and Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has criticised the government for failing to deliver a credible strategy to achieve our 2030 renewables targets following yesterday’s dismal outcome in the Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS 3).

The auction delivered the lowest ever MWs at the highest ever price.

Commenting on the results which were published yesterday evening, the Meath East TD said:

“These results are a total disaster. There is no other way to put it.

“The RESS auctions are a key government policy to deliver the Climate Action Plan. Well, if this the level at which they are delivering, Ireland will come nowhere near close to our 2030 targets.

“Shockingly, this auction returned the highest bid price yet at a staggering €100.47 per megawatt hour (P/MWh)

“We are travelling in completely the wrong direction. RESS 1 and RESS 2 returned bid prices of €97.87 P/MWh and €74.08 P/MWh respectively.

“And if we compare Ireland to an international context, we are lagging way behind. The most recent onshore auction in Britain, AR5, concluded with contracts awarded, in 2012 prices, for onshore wind of £52.29 per MWh! Converting that to euros and accounting for inflation since 2012 works out at €82.74. This means that Ireland is woefully uncompetitive in an international context.

“To add insult to injury, the latest RESS round has delivered the smallest volume of renewable energy of any auction to date.

“Just three wind farms were awarded contracts in the government auction at a total capacity of 148.4MW. Solar did not fare much better, with just 497.6MW of solar capacity emerged from the process.

“This represents a significant drop when compared to previous results. In RESS 2, 414MW of wind capacity and more than 1.5GW of solar was delivered. And in RESS 1, 796.3 MW of solar was delivered with 479.236 of wind having cleared.

“These result represent nearly a 28% drop from RESS 1 and a 33% decrease from RESS 2.

“One has to ask, what on earth is this government playing at? They are great at setting lofty targets and dressing them up in fluffy rhetoric but are completely failing to deliver. A target without a roadmap of how to get there is no plan at all!

“Whatever their excuses are, we cannot ignore the hard facts. They urgently need to address the issues that have been at play in the renewables sphere for some time now and about which Sinn Féin has been sounding the alarm bills for year.

“The average time for a decision on an application or appeal related to a wind energy project is now over 90 weeks. Since the end of September 2022 no onshore wind energy project has been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála. This is simply staggering.

“The beleaguered planning system when combined with the overstrained electricity grid prevents many projects with successful offers never even getting off the ground. This means the results are even worse than they appear on paper. The fact is that other projects in RESS 1 and RESS 2 have actually “timed-out.” The same is likely to happen for RESS 3 if things continue as they are.

“And it is not just Sinn Féin that the government is refusing to listen to. Key industry stakeholders such as Wind Energy Ireland and the Irish Solar Energy Association have warned the government for some time that that there were key issues that were not being addressing, risking a very unsuccessful auction.

“Well it looks as if all of these fears have come true. Not only does this decrease the likelihood that we will reach our 2030 targets, but it also risks any opportunity Ireland has at becoming energy independent and a global leader in the net exporter of renewables. The chance to translate of our vast natural resources into national wealth for all is slipping through our fingers.

“This result was totally avoidable had the government not fallen asleep at the wheel. Sinn Féin has actual plans to address this issue via legislation to establish a cost of renewables taskforce as well as increased resources for An Bord Pleanála to deal with the issues in the planning system, both of which we’ve been calling for years now.

“It is high time this government got their act together and took these issues seriously. Ireland cannot afford otherwise.” 

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