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New Energy World
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Ireland’s first licensing round awards 3 GW of offshore wind
Ireland recently announced the provisional results of the country’s first offshore wind auction under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS 1). The round surpassed market expectations both in terms of the total volume of renewable energy procured and the low price at which it was secured. Meanwhile, the UK government has unveiled plans for improved rewards and benefits to be offered to communities backing onshore wind farms in the UK.
ORESS is an auction-based process which invites renewable energy projects to compete against each other, by bidding as low as possible, in order to win contracts to provide electricity at the bid price for a 20-year period.
The price secured under the first ORESS round averaged €86.05/MWh, one of the lowest prices paid by an emerging offshore wind market in the world and ‘hugely competitive’, according to the Irish government. For comparison, the average wholesale electricity price in Ireland over the past 12 months was in excess of €200/MWh. The price secured under ORESS 1 ‘will save Irish electricity consumers hundreds of millions of euros per year', says the government.
Over 3 GW of capacity was procured from four offshore wind projects, which will deliver over 12 TWh of renewable electricity per year. ‘This is the largest volume of renewable energy Ireland has ever procured at auction – equivalent to over a third of Ireland’s entire electricity consumption this year and over a quarter of projected 2030 electricity demand,’ says the government. Adding: ‘It is also enough to power over 2.5mn Irish homes with clean electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 1mn tonnes in 2030.’
The provisional awards are anticipated to be confirmed in mid-June, with the projects expected to begin construction from 2026 and first wind from 2027.
The ORESS 1 auction was open to six offshore wind projects under the first phase of the government’s offshore wind programme. Unsuccessful projects may still find a route to market via a corporate power purchase agreement (CPPA), an arrangement whereby a company procures renewable electricity through a direct contractual agreement with a renewable electricity generator, or a future ORESS auction.
Earlier in the month, the Irish government announced plans to develop a national industrial strategy for offshore wind, to be published in 1Q2024, that will help deliver its target of 7 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030, rising to at least 37 GW by 2050. The government wants renewable energy sources to provide 80% of the country’s electricity by 2030.
UK to reward onshore wind backers
Meanwhile, the UK government has unveiled plans for improved rewards and benefits to be offered to communities backing onshore wind farms in the UK.
It is proposing that community benefits, such as energy bill discounts, are added to the range of reward schemes that onshore developers currently offer host communities. This would be agreed between developers and communities on a case-by-case basis. It is also proposing best practice principles of engagement are embedded into planning guidance for local authorities and developers to ensure the views of the community are heard and addressed.
The proposals build on benefits already offered by developers to areas that agree to have onshore wind farms locally. These include holding a stake in a turbine, which gives them the potential to receive profits from the site’s operation, or funding for new community facilities, such as charging points for electric cars or new sports and recreation facilities.
Winds of change
In other news, Iberdrola reports that the first wind turbine at the offshore wind farm located in the bay of Saint-Brieuc has been installed, claimed to be the first offshore wind turbine in the sea of Brittany. A total of 62 wind turbines are to be assembled line by line, followed by gradual commissioning.
Meanwhile, Pattern Energy Group and its affiliate in Japan, Green Power Investment (GPI), have commissioned the 113 MW Sumita Tono wind facility in the mountainous area between the municipalities of Tono and Sumita, in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. The project comprises 27 Vestas 4.2 MW wind turbines and has a 20-year feed-in-tariff power purchase agreement with Tohoku Electric Power Network for 100% of the power output.
Elsewhere, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the development of Uzbekistan’s renewable energy capacity by extending a $ 19.3mn loan to ACWA Power Wind Karatau to finance the construction of a 100 MW wind power plant in the republic of Karakalpakstan in western Uzbekistan. The project will also be co-financed by the German Development Finance Institution DEG part of KfW Group, and by the French Development Finance Institution Proparco, part of the Agence Française de Développement Group.
The EBRD has so far financed 2,700 MW of renewables capacity in Uzbekistan. Karatau is reported to be the first renewable energy project to be developed under the country’s Public Private Partnership Law and is to also support women’s participation in the country’s renewable energy sector.