In 2018 the Irish Government approved the high-level design of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) including its ambitious community provisions. The design was based on two public consultations:
- The ambition set out in Ireland’s Energy White Paper to support communities,
- The emergence of energy communities as a key function of the recast Renewable Energy Directive within the EU Clean Energy Package.
The Government decision noted that the scheme would deliver on a broad range of policy objectives, including “the provision of pathways and supports for communities to participate in renewable energy projects”.
Renewable electricity is a central element of Ireland’s action on climate disruption as set out in the Programme for Government, the Climate Action Plan 2019, and the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030. The RESS scheme ensures that we are on a pathway to meet our ambitious climate targets and lays the foundations of a thriving and cost-effective renewable electricity market. This will support the growth of the green economy, create both sustainable work opportunities and communities, and ultimately benefit the consumer as renewables become more cost effective.
Overview of RESS
The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) has been designed to promote investment in renewable energy generation in Ireland. Ireland has set a target of 80% renewable electricity, and an EU-wide renewable energy target of 32%, by 2030. This competitive auction based, cost effective framework will help us achieve these targets.
In addition RESS will help deliver
- Community ownership and partnership and
- Increased renewable technology diversity
RESS AuctionsRESS auctions will be held at frequent intervals throughout the lifetime of the scheme. These auctions will be designed in line with trajectory targets identified in Ireland’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).
Community aspects of RESS
There are two aspects of community participation in RESS.
- Community-Led Projects
- Community Benefit Funds
Community-led projects can apply for RESS if they meet the following criteria*:
- Application must be made in conjunction with a Sustainable Energy Community (SEC)
- Project size must be between 0.5 and 5MW
- Fully (100%) owned by a Renewable Energy Community (REC)** – primary purpose is community benefit (environmental, economic or social) rather than financial profit.
- Community group must be based on open and voluntary participation
- Participation based on local domicile (within close proximity to the RESS project)
An application for a Community-Led Project must be made in conjunction with a Sustainable Energy Community member. The SEC must be identified in the Declaration of a Community-Led Project, together with a description of the relationship between the Applicant and the Sustainable Energy Community.
In February 2021 it was announced that Community-led projects seeking to apply to future RESS auctions, must be 100% owned by the community, as opposed to being majority owned as was the case for RESS-1.
Community Benefit Funds
A mandatory Community Benefit Fund must be provided by all projects successful in a RESS auction. The contribution is to be set at €2/MWh. The Fund will be aligned to incentivise investment in local renewable energy, energy efficiency measures and climate action initiatives.The community benefit funds under RESS-1 will deliver approximately €4.5million a year to sustainable community initiatives targeted at those communities living in close proximity to the RESS-1 Projects.
RESS project developers can now register their project and associated Community Benefit Fund on our Community Benefit Fund National Register.