Government renewables policy is driving up green electricity costs, wind lobby says – The Irish Times


Strengthening the national grid and revamping green energy carriers could reduce electricity bills for homes and businesses, a leading industry group has claimed.

National electricity grid operator Eirgrid recently awarded contracts to 80 new projects, with the capacity to supply around half of the Republic’s peak electricity needs, under the Renewable Energy Support Program (RESS) of the state.

However, lobby group Wind Energy Ireland said the average price of €97.87 per megawatt (MW) hour that power companies will receive under the new contracts is 15% higher than similar deals struck by Eirgrid. in 2020. The industry body argued that this means the price of green electricity is rising when it should be falling.

Wind Energy Ireland partly blames the grid for not being able to regularly transmit all the electricity produced by wind and solar farms to customers, adding around 8% to the cost of electricity.

The organization also pointed out that Eirgrid’s latest strategy focuses more on planned offshore projects in the Irish Sea than on strengthening the grid to enable it to handle more wind and solar projects built on land.

According to Noel Cunniffe, chief executive of the lobby group, a squeeze in current grid capacity means that some onshore wind turbines are regularly blocked from delivering electricity. Therefore, these companies must seek higher prices when bidding for power generation contracts under the RESS to guarantee a return on the power they can sell.

Last year, a study commissioned by Wind Energy Ireland from energy consultants Everoze calculated that this increased the cost of green electricity by 8%.

Eirgrid said its strategy, Shaping Our Electric Future, aims to prepare for 2030, when renewables will generate at least 70% of the Republic’s electricity. This requires 5,000 MW of new offshore electricity and 2,300 MW of onshore wind and solar power, the grid company said.

“Eirgrid is committed to developing the infrastructure needed to deliver this clean electricity to homes and businesses efficiently, and already has a significant number of infrastructure projects underway, as called for in Shaping our Electricity Future.“, he added.

The state-owned company pointed out that the government had increased the target for renewable energy to 80% of electricity since Eirgrid published its strategy.

Wind Energy Ireland has also argued that the government should allow renewable energy producers to link their electricity supply bids to consumer prices, so they can increase charges in line with inflation.

RESS rules do not allow this. Therefore, Mr Cunniffe said wind farm operators had to increase their bids to account for likely inflation over the life of their 16-year contracts.

His organization pointed out that most comparable European support schemes for renewable electricity allow producers to link their contractual offers to inflation. He added that the changes made by the State Assessment Office have tripled and quadrupled the commercial tariffs paid by onshore producers. In some cases, they are now paying two and a half times the tariffs levied on fossil fuel power plants, the group said.

Previous Drumaness crash: Community 'stunned' after woman killed
Next Trainer 'still in shock' as 17 horses gallop down road after breaking away from field