For Written Answer on : 26/07/2022
Question Number(s): 67 Question Reference(s): 39845/22
Department: Environment, Climate and Communications
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
[Ref No.: 39845/22]
* To ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of community solar projects for local power generation currently in operation nationally; the further number of such projects planned to enter operation in the coming years; the supports, if any, in place by his Department to assist such projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – David Stanton.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 26th July, 2022.
(780 Received on 12th July, 2022.)
The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) includes a dedicated community category developed specifically to allow communities and citizens to participate in and benefit from RESS.
In the first RESS auction, seven community projects were successful, two of which were 100% community owned, the remainder being at least 51% community owned. Five of these were solar projects, with four of these solar projects currently progressing through the scheme’s delivery milestones to commercial operation. For the second RESS auction onwards, all community projects must be 100% community owned. Ten community projects received a notice of award in the second RESS auction, eight of which are solar projects.
The RESS Community Enabling Framework includes a package of enabling supports including technical, financial and legal services to assist communities in navigating the challenging terrain of electricity generation. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is leading in implementing and facilitating these components of the framework. In 2022, €2 million in capital funding has been allocated to support the development of Community projects, which allowed the SEAI to roll out a trusted advisory service and enabling grants service in April 2022. These vital supports will enable the growth of the community renewable electricity generation sector.
The Climate Action Plan also commits to the development of a support scheme for small-scale generation (>50kW) to support the deployment of rooftop and ground-mounted solar PV in cohorts that are not as suited to other support measures. This will enable farmers, SME’s and communities and others to maximise their participation in the energy transition. I will shortly be launching a consultation on proposed design elements of this scheme, which will have supporting the development of Community energy projects as a central focus. The scheme is expected to become available in 2023.