To achieve the CAP23 target Ireland must secure an additional 0.5GW of solar capacity at every Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction. Image: Pixabay.

New analysis from Cornwall Insight’s All-Island forward curve has shown Ireland must secure a total of 1.7GW of solar capacity at every renewable energy auction until 2030 to avoid missing climate targets.

Last December the government increased its renewable capacity goal from 15GW in the Climate Action Plan 2021 (CAP21) to 22GW in CAP23 so as to reach an 80% renewable electricity share by 2030.

This catapulted the capacity target of a number of renewable technologies including solar which spiked from 1.5-2.5GW in CAP21 to 8GW.

To achieve this new target Ireland must significantly bolster its solar capacity, securing an additional 0.5GW at every Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction (RESS).

Renewables capacity targets under CAP23

Graph: Cornwall Insight.

Capacity needed for future Auctions to meet CAP 23 targets

Image: Cornwall Insight.

Growth in the Irish solar sector is picking up pace with a number of solar farm developments announced in recent years; in March this year energy producer Voltalia was selected to build a 108MW solar farm in Ireland. Prior to this EDF Renewables began construction on its first three Irish solar sites, whilst investor and asset manager NTR acquired a 54MW co-located solar and storage sight in Wexford, Ireland.

Limited capacity for connecting renewable generation and the “unpredictable nature” of solar and wind raising concerns over system security are additional hurdles highlighted by Cornwall Insight in Ireland’s road to achieving its renewables targets.

It is also crucial, continued the company, that the country’s investment in storage technology does not lag behind renewable generation, causing clean energy to be lost rather than stored and used later.

“The increased ambition for building renewables over the last year is encouraging, however, there are significant obstacles to overcome if Ireland hopes to achieve its renewable energy targets. One major challenge is increasing the energy obtained from each auction until 2030, which is no small feat. Merely maintaining the current pace will not suffice if we aim to meet the targets,” said Sean Hughes, modelling analyst at Cornwall Insight Ireland.

“Even if we manage to enhance procurement adequately, the absence of grid connections and energy storage could render those efforts futile. After all, if the energy cannot reach consumers or be stored for future use, the purpose of its production becomes obsolete.

“Ireland stands at a critical juncture in its net zero journey, The recent call for evidence paper on CAP24 is a resounding plea for collaboration in the industry to meet its ambitious renewables targets, and it is hoped that the subsequent roadmap will help to cement Ireland as a leading renewable energy nation. By prioritising the procurement of renewable resources and fortifying its grid infrastructure, the country can pave the way towards a sustainable and resilient energy future.”

This article was first published on Solar Power Portal's sister site Current±, the orginal article can be found here.