SSE on Ireland’s New Scheme: Too Little Room for Large-Scale Offshore Wind

OrbisEnergy tenant SSE has welcomed the approval of the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) in Ireland, however, the company said it had concerns that the potential size of the future individual auctions outlined in the RESS design “may be too small to allow large-scale offshore wind projects to commercially progress forward.”

“On this basis, SSE encourages the Government to implement a technology-specific category for offshore wind which it has included as an option in today’s outline design,” said Stephen Wheeler, SSE Ireland Managing Director.

When the new scheme was introduced in 2017, Stephen Wheeler, warned that a technology-neutral approach would put Ireland’s aim of meeting its 2020 renewable energy target at risk, as technologies such as onshore and offshore wind would be competing against each other “on a pure cost-per-MWh basis” while offshore wind can deliver larger scale of future renewable energy capacity. At the time, in a piece published by Irish Independent, Wheeler made a case for a technology-specific auction category in the new scheme that would create an investment environment for offshore wind energy.

Nevertheless, the new scheme is a significant step forward in Ireland’s support for offshore wind energy, according to Wheeler.

“We are pleased that the Government’s new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme will provide continued support for onshore wind energy and opens up support for offshore wind energy in upcoming competitive auction rounds, which we have been advocating for some time. Also, as Ireland’s leading provider of community funding through renewable energy, we welcome the increased focus on community engagement and benefit under the new scheme,” Wheeler said.

Ireland currently has only one operational offshore wind farm, the 25MW Arklow Bank, developed by SSE and partners, and two consented projects, one of which is SSE’s 495MW Arklow Bank 2.

In 2017, Ireland’s state owned electricity company Electricity Supply Board (ESB) unveiled plans to develop or acquire the offshore wind projects commencing in 2018, through a pipeline of offshore wind farms going through the consenting process. In February 2018, ESB-owned Hibernian Wind Power applied for two investigative foreshore licences, aiming to examine the feasibility of building a 500MW offshore wind farm (or wind farms) off Ireland’s East Coast.

Furthermore, an independent renewable energy developer, Element Power, entered the offshore wind market in April 2018, by taking over the development of the North Irish Sea Array (NISA) offshore wind site in the Irish Sea from Gaelectric. The NISA site is located off the east coast of Ireland and has a potential capacity of up to 750MW.

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The Team

Katie Snell

Having worked within the property department for 9 years, I have had the pleasure of working within the majority of the Nwes sites in the Norfolk and Waveney area. For the last 2.5 years I have been based at OrbisEnergy and more recently as Senior Coordinator overlooking the renewable hub and team.

Devon Mills

Devon has joined the team at OrbisEnergy as an Administration Coordinator in November 2014 and more recently a Centre Coordinator in January 2016. Having previously worked within various customer service roles she is pleased to be able to apply her skills and knowledge to her position at OrbisEnergy.

She is keen to build a strong understanding within the Offshore Renewable industry, whilst being able to develop a good mind for business and sales.

Johnathan Reynolds

Johnathan is responsible for all aspects of business and supply chain development for the flagship innovation and incubation centre for offshore renewables in the east of England, OrbisEnergy.

Matthew Holden

Matt’s role is Technical Support Manager, his main duty is leading the European Clusters for Offshore Wind Servicing Project (ECOWindS, on behalf of Nwes. In addition to ECOWindS Matt’s role is provide support for the property team and to carry out specific project work.

John Balch

John is Managing Director of Nautilus, Director of Nwes and Hub Director of OrbisEnergy and Beacon Innovation Centre. He is a mechanical engineer and has broad experience gained over 40 years in the international offshore industry.

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