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

What is the cost of Ireland not achieving its renewable energy targets?

Can we remain hopeful despite not achieving renewable targets? Michael Doran, Director, Action Renewables and GREBE project partner discusses the issues surrounding Ireland’s progress towards 2020 energy targets in his article Ireland’s Inconvenient Truth, We face a triple cost for not achieving our energy targets by 2020′

Ireland is not close to achieving its energy and emissions targets. We are currently one of four countries in Europe expected to miss the 2020 targets set out by the European Directive. The other countries set to fall short are Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Ireland is approximately 7% short of the 16% target. These legally binding targets from the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, were set with the goal of reducing the greenhouse effect, securing energy supply, maximising renewables and saving money.

According to the SEAI, the cost to Ireland will be between €100-€150 million for each percentage point the country is short of the target. The SEAI report on Ireland’s Energy Targets: Progress, Ambition and Impacts depict the current progress towards achieving the targets, shown in the graph below, Figure 1.

AR 14-06-2017

The full article can be downloaded from the Action Renewables website here

 

Bioenergy 2017: The Irish Bioenergy Association hosts the National Bioenergy Conference

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A strong attendance list of 190 were present at the annual IrBEA Bioenergy Conference in Dublin on Thursday 9th February.

The programme featured four sessions, the first session focused on policy where Fergus Leamy, CEO of Coillte, the leading forestry, land owning, renewable energy and panel products business in Ireland, provided high-level insights on how we in Ireland can optimize our bioenergy potential. Matthew Clancy, Programme Manager for Low-Carbon Technologies at the SEAI talked about the detailed outlook and challenges for bioenergy in Ireland.

The timing of this conference was particularly appropriate in light of the final consultation on the Government’s proposed introduction of a renewable heat incentive (RHI). This very welcome development can be the key to unlocking the potential of bioenergy in Ireland. Getting to our renewable energy and climate change targets, generating energy from indigenous resources, reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and promoting jobs and economic activity across the entire country, are just some of the benefits.

Reflecting the importance of this challenge we had a session on the RHI consultation delivered by Tom Bruton in the mid-morning sessions. Key speakers and advisors were present at the conference, and the attendees were given the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session to drum up ideas for a response to the consultation. IrBEA will submit a consultation response in mid-March.

After lunch, Session 3 concentrated on Project Finance. Garrett Monaghan of Arthur Cox covered the area of executing and financing biomass projects. He confirmed that capital is available for biomass projects but stressed the importance of planning, having experts on hand, and using funders as allies to help you get the job done. Garrett also looked at RHI implementation and addressed some of the current issues. Russell Smyth (KPMG) walked us through many projects scenarios which are up and running in the AD and W-E sector; commenting that there was a robust equity investment appetite for the sector.

Franceso Panzeri of Demetra gave the history of engineering and designing the ADBag. The solution is a modular system based on a prefabricated plastic bag, which is easy to be installed and maintained. Frank Donnelly of Northway Mushrooms detailed hands-on experiences of his farming business and how his dependence on different renewable energy supplies including biomass boilers and large solar panel investment has helped keep his business viable in changing economic times.

Further information about the Irish Bioenergy Association can be found on their website: http://www.irbea.org/

The IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference – Thursday 9th February 2017

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‘Bioenergy 2017’ – The IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference will be held at the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin on Thursday 9th February.

2017 looks to be a pivotal year for Ireland’s energy policy; the industry expects clarity by then for the roll-out of a Renewable Heat Incentive.  It’s imperative that the Irish Government develops an energy policy that allows for greater growth in the bioenergy sector. This will be under discussion at the conference.

The conference will have a strong line up of speakers, both international and national, presenting industry models, policy perspectives and investment opportunities to stimulate lively discussion and strong media coverage.

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More on what will be discussed at the event can be found on the IrBEA website: http://www.irbea.org/bioenergy-2017-irbea-national-bioenergy-conference/

The GREBE Business Supports Catalogue

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This GREBE Business Supports Catalogue has been developed following a review of Renewable Energy business support funding mechanisms and funding options available to support the development of renewable businesses in the NPA region.

It provides information on the funding mechanisms currently available in the partner regions (Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Scotland).  The information will be useful to both funding agencies (e.g. business support agencies and municipalities) and to SMEs giving details of funding options available in their regions.

The main focus is on public body support for renewable businesses but both private sector and social investment options have been included where appropriate. The supports included are for SMEs and Micro businesses but also include options for those SMEs expected to grow rapidly (e.g. High Potential Start Ups).  The business support funding mechanisms considered vary from standard ‘hard’ business support options (e.g. loans and venture capital) to softer supports (e.g. innovation schemes, business partner search supports etc.)

A short introduction on the methods and types of supports in each partner region is provided.  Information for each partner region is it then organised under the following categories:

  • Financial Support (grants, loans, equity investment)
  • Taxation or welfare supports or concessions for businesses
  • Soft supports e.g. mentoring, training, specialist advice, networks
  • Research and Development Supports
  • Social and Community supports (focused on not for profit)
  • Other- e.g. Incubation space or office space etc.

Within each of these categories there is considerable variation in the ways different funding options are implemented and these differences will impact on the success of schemes. We hope that by using this catalogue those who seeking funding and support for renewable businesses will have a clear portfolio of options which are available to them.

In the future the information in this catalogue will be used to create a web based tool allowing users to search for available funding options and to consider different types of funding available in each region.  The catalogues is available on the GREBE project website here

CGN Europe Energy buys 14 windfarms in Northern Ireland and Ireland from Gaelectric

gaelectric-13-12-2016

Gaelectric Holdings has confirmed the sale of wind farms totalling 230MW in Ireland and Northern Ireland to CGN Europe Energy, the renewable energy arm of China General Nuclear Power Group. The deal comprises 10 operating projects with a total capacity of 184MW, and a further four wind farms totalling 46MW that will be operational by mid-2017.

Seven of the wind farms are in Northern Ireland and seven in the Republic of Ireland, Gaelectric said. The company added that it will continue to provide asset management and power offtake services to CGN Europe Energy following the sale.

Gaelectric Holdings chief executive Barry Gavin said: “This agreement allows us to support the group’s balance sheet, paying down debt and creating the foundations for our other operational and development interests in the renewable energy sector.”