Interest grows in large-scale solar in Ireland

AR solar 03-08-2017

Irish power utility EBS and wind specialist Bord na Móna are planning a giant solar project across three counties in the middle of Ireland. Meanwhile, large-scale PV projects with a combined capacity of 1.47 GW were submitted to the local grid operator for approval.

Ireland’s state-owned power utility Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and local wind power specialist Bord na Móna announced a plan to develop a giant PV project across four locations in Roscommon, Offaly and Kildare, in the middle of the country.

In their press release, the two companies said the plant will be able to power 150,000 homes and businesses in the area, without releasing additional information. Local media, however, reported that the installation will have a capacity of 570 MW, and that it will require a global investment of around €500 million ($545.9 million).

The Irish Minister for Communications, Climate Action, & Environment Denis Naughten welcomed the co-development agreement between ESB and Bord na Móna claiming that it will place solar technology “at the heart of the solutions needed by the Irish economy and society.”

“Wind will continue to have a major role to play in supporting the decarbonisation of our energy system, but I am acutely conscious of the need to diversify our renewable generation portfolio in order to meet our ambitious climate and energy objectives. I therefore expect other technologies, including solar, to have a growing role,” Naughten said.

This is not the first investment that ESB has made in the Irish solar sector. In October 2016, the company invested €2.5 million to acquire a majority stake in Irish company Terra Solar. “This strategic investment will see the development of multiple solar PV farms within Ireland in the future, which will result in a lower carbon footprint and contribute to increased energy production from renewable sources,” the company said at the time.

That interest in large-scale solar project is increasing in Ireland was confirmed to pv magazine by the local grid operator EirGrid, which revealed that, as of the end of February 2017, it had received approximately 1,474 megawatts of solar applications from approximately 20 developers. All of these applications were for PV projects exceeding 40 MW. “It is worth noting,” said EirGrid, “that this represents a minority of solar generation applications, the majority of which are seeking connection to the distribution system operated by ESB Networks.”

Despite this growing interest for MW-sized PV projects, Ireland has currently an installed PV capacity of around 6 MW (which is almost entirely on rooftops), according to the report Ireland’s Solar Value Chain Opportunity recently published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

SEAI said that the main driver for this 6 MW was Part L of the domestic building regulations, which requires a proportion of the energy consumption of a dwelling to be provided by renewable energy sources. According to the report, almost 4,000 new dwellings recorded in the country’s Building Energy Rating (BER) database have included some solar PV generation capacity.

The Irish government has certainly shown a clear commitment to renewable energy sources within the country, but has yet to finalize its renewable energy policy or the financial incentives that will be made available to renewable developments. One thing that makes the country particularly attractive for solar PV development is the growing deployment of energy storage solutions across Ireland, which should make solar technology easier to integrate.

The Irish solar landscape could grow to around 3.7 GW by 2030, said a report released in November 2015 by the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

The report concluded that the rapid cost reduction of solar seen globally since 2008 could deliver large-scale solar in Ireland at a cost of €150/MWh, and if just €670 million in investment in the sector was forthcoming between 2017 and 2030, the solar industry of Ireland could support around €2 billion of Gross Added Value.

Further information is available at https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/05/02/ireland-interest-grows-in-large-scale-solar/

Ireland’s first National Mitigation Plan is published

Denis Naughton
Minister Denis Naughton

Irelands Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., published Ireland’s first statutory National Mitigation Plan last week, in line with its Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015, and designed to complement the country’s Paris Agreement commitment towards lowering its emissions. The 200-page document, with a foreword by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, it outlines the nation’s next era of energy engagement through to 2030 and 2050.

The first National Mitigation Plan represents an initial step to set Ireland on a pathway to achieve the level of decarbonisation required. It is a whole-of-Government Plan, reflecting in particular the central roles of the key Ministers responsible for the sectors covered by the Plan – Electricity Generation, the Built Environment, Transport and Agriculture, as well as drawing on the perspectives and responsibilities of a range of other Government Departments.

The measures that will be implemented through this first Plan will lay the foundations for transitioning Ireland to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. This is the Government’s new blueprint for reducing greenhouse emissions in Ireland by 80 per cent before 2050.  To support this ongoing work, the Plan also includes 106 individual actions for various Ministers and public bodies to take forward as Ireland moves to implementation of what will be a living document. Importantly, the Government recognises that this first Plan does not provide a complete roadmap to achieve the 2050 objective, but begins the process of development of medium to long term mitigation choices for the next and future decades.

Environmental analysis was undertaken as part of the development of the Plan and information on how environmental considerations and the views of consultees and stakeholders influenced the Plan are set out in the Environmental Statement and the final Natura Impact Statement.

The plan has been described by Minister for Climate Action Denis Naughten as the “initial step to set Ireland on a pathway to achieve deep decarbonisation”.

The National Mitigation Plan can be downloaded from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment website Here

Renewable Energy Technology Development: Short Term Policy Recommendations for Nordic Countries

nsp-26-01-2017

There is a clear technological and economical pathway for the Nordic region to push towards a more near carbon-neutral energy system in 2050. The Nordic countries want to send a strong signal to the global community that the ambitious aims of the Paris Climate Agreement are achievable. This is the conclusion from the; Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives Report 2016 – from The International Energy Agency and Nordic Energy Research.

The ambitious pathway outlined by the Nordic countries, who specifically wants to act in four key areas:

  1. Strengthen incentives for investment and innovations in energy technologies.
  2. Boost European cooperation on grid infrastructure and electricity markets.
  3. Reduce process-related emissions in industry
  4. Accelerate transport decarbonisation

 

1.Strengthen incentives for investment and innovation in energy technologies.

The Renewable Energy Policy should accelerate the  roll-out of key flexibility technologies and  incentivise their utilisation for flexibility through market mechanisms and regulation. Markets must also adequately compensate flexibility services such as demand response in industry and  buildings, as well as the flexible operation of small power plants. Information technology (IT) infrastructure (smart meters) and IT platforms (consumer Apps or control systems) will be important  in achieving a rapid penetration of these flexibility services.

2. Boost European cooperation on grid infrastructure and electricity markets.

Coordinated effort to strengthen domestic grids and install new transmission lines is needed to  establish the future Nordic and European electricity system (‘The Green Battery Strategy’).  Regional collaboration on infrastructure planning is needed to ensure optimal investments and avoid bottle-necks in the grid. Coordination among Nordic governments is vital to ensure that policy accelerates  technological and regulatory progress in order to reduce total costs. Cooperation in reforming the common Nordic electricity market to allow greater flexibility and accommodate higher shares of variable renewables will also be important.

3. Reduce process-related emissions in industry.

The Renewable Energy Policy should take steps to ensure long-term competitiveness of Nordic industry while reducing process-related emissions. More variable and potentially higher electricity prices will put additional pressure on energy-intensive industry in the Nordic region, stressing the need to step up low-carbon industrial innovation. Governments should act to reduce the risk of such investment and use public funding to unlock private finance in areas with significant emission reduction potential.

4. Accelerate transport decarbonisation.

Even as Nordic countries pursue different technology strategies in parallel, they should not wait to draw on  the wide range of available policy instruments to stimulate fuel efficiency, low carbon technologies and shifts to more efficient transport modes. Governments should build upon positive experiences with measures such as congestion charging in urban settings, differentiated vehicle registration taxes, bonus-malus regimes, and altered parking fees, while also stepping up investments in infrastructure  for cycling, public transport and rail. Policies should also incentivise modal shifts from road freight to sea and rail, and from cars to public transport and cycling.

Nordic and European collaboration on energy policy can play a role to reach the ambitious aims of the Paris Climate Agreement.