The average bid price for RESS 3 saw a slight increase of 2.6% on the 2022 auction at €100.47 per MWh. Image: Christian_Birkholz (Pixabay).

The results of Ireland’s third Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction selected 20 solar projects, totalling 497MW, as provisional winners.

Published by the EirGrid yesterday (27 September), the results revealed that the average bid price for RESS 3 saw a slight increase of 2.6% on the 2022 auction at €100.47 (£116.33) per MWh.

According to the Irish government, RESS 3 reflects a marginal price increase for solar compared to last year’s auction of roughly 1.2% real offer price terms.

The onshore wind and solar volumes provisionally procured in the third auction are said to represent a 12% increase on Ireland’s current renewable capacity, which the Irish government stated kept the country in line to achieve its Climate Action Plan 2023 solar target of 8GW by 2030.

This follows recent analysis by market researcher Cornwall Insight’s All-Island forward curve, which signalled that Ireland must secure a total of 1.7GW of solar capacity at every renewable energy auction until 2030 to avoid missing its CAP23 commitment, a target that has been missed in this recent auction.  

The Irish government expressed concern that only 1GW of the 3GW of projects eligible to compete applied to the auction.

“I am pleased to welcome the provisional results of the third onshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction. The auction design was intended to maximise the volume of renewables connecting to the electricity grid, whilst shielding consumers from high prices is critical as we move towards 2030,” said Eamon Ryan, Irish minister for environment, climate and communications.

“While this is lower volumes than previous auction rounds, RESS 3 targeted mature, shovel-ready projects that all have planning permissions and grid connection offers and are expected to deliver rapidly, by early 2027 at the latest.”

ISEA warns RESS success slowed by policy

Responding to the RESS 3 provisional results announcement, the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) warned that the potential success of the auction was stunted by and “overly rigid” design and  “avoidable systemic failures”.

Conall Bolger, CEO of the ISEA, identifies the late publication of the Auction Price Cap and lack of alignment between grid, planning and the auction process, as key hindrances to the success of RESS 3.

“The Auction Price Cap, the maximum any developer is permitted to bid, was only published only after developers would have faced a penalty for deciding not to bid. Industry should not be expected to gamble significant sums of money with no knowledge if their investment will be viable or not,” said Bolger.

 “The developer of any renewable project wants to ensure it is up and running as soon as possible. But the reality is that delays, at the hands of state institutions, make that challenging for many. Delays in planning and receiving the required connections to the national electricity grid are entirely out of developers’ hands and entirely within the States. Yet it is the developer who will be sanctioned by the state for the state’s own failings if a delay occurs. A failure to account for these state inflicted problems will have limited the number of projects bidding in this RESS auction.

“We are also now seeing how these systemic failures are also limiting the progress of projects that were successful in the two previous RESS auctions,” Bolger revealed. As the government continues to grapple with the high costs of energy they must focus on driving renewables. Generating more renewables in Ireland will drive down wholesale costs making energy cheaper for everyone. Failing to do so increases costs, energy insecurity and delays progress towards our climate action goals.”

RESS 4, which will be larger than its predecessor, is due to take place in 2024.