Ireland - Country Commercial Guide
Energy - Renewables

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-08

Overview

Ireland has made significant advances over the past decade to transition its electricity sector to low-carbon, renewable energy.  Because Ireland imports approximately 90% of its primary energy requirements, renewable energy has attracted substantial attention across the commercial and political spectrum.  At present, some 4,786 MW of renewable generation have executed connection-offer contracts with EirGrid, (Ireland’s National Grid), and ESB Networks under the grid connection program.  Onshore wind is the principal renewable technology at present with Wind Energy Ireland reporting over 300 wind farms in operation.  Ireland’s grid currently operates with 65% of renewable power. This is forecast to increase in the coming decade as Ireland endeavors to meet its new renewable target of 70% by 2030The current EirGrid strategy (2020-2025) is shaped by climate change and the transition of the electricity sector to low-carbon, renewable energy.

Irish energy policy is currently framed by the 2019 Ireland Climate Action Plan.  This plan outlines the intention to: (1) deliver an ‘early and complete’ phase-out of coal- and peat-fired electricity generation; (2) increase electricity generated from renewable sources to 70% by 2030, (encompassing 3.5GW of offshore renewable energy, 1.5GW of grid-scale solar energy and 8.2GW increased onshore wind capacity); and (3) have 15% of electricity demand by renewable sources contracted under ‘Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs)’.  An updated Climate Action Plan will be published in late 2021 when the Irish government outlines plans to achieve its stated goals of an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions between 2021 and 2030 (equating to a 51% reduction over the decade), and to attaining net zero emissions by 2050.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Onshore/Offshore Wind

To date, onshore wind is the leading renewable technology deployed with Wind Energy Ireland reporting over 300 wind farms in operation and accounting for about 4,500 MW of renewable generation.  In July 2020, 19 onshore wind projects corresponding to 1,469.34 GWh of wind power generation secured provisional approval to sign contracts under Ireland’s latest Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS-1) program.  Large energy users particularly in the energy-intensive datacenter sector are increasingly signing Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs) with onside wind farms.  To date, Hyperscale segment operators Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have finalized CPPAs.  

Ireland currently has one operational offshore wind project - the 25.2-MW Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 1, which is owned and operated by GE Energy.  The project was co-developed in 2004 by Airtricity (now SSE Renewables) and GE Energy as a demonstrator project and remains the first and only operational offshore wind farm in Ireland.  SSE Renewables has plans for a second phase of development at Arklow Bank involving a 520-MW offshore wind farm.  Ireland is fast-tracking the development of its offshore wind sector in line with its 2019 Climate Action Plan.  In May 2020, the government announced ‘Relevant Projects’ status for seven (7) offshore renewable energy projects.  The offshore wind projects have been in varying stages of planning and development in recent years and being granted ‘Relevant Projects’ status will enable fast-tracking to construction and implementation.

Energy Storage

Activity around energy storage projects has increased significantly in recent years.  Ireland’s gas utility Ervia announced plans for an off-shore Carbon Capture and Storage project in Cork in late 2019.  Ervia is partnering with Netherlands-based Gasunie and Norway’s Equinor on the project which has received Project of Common Interest (PCI) status from the European Commission.  Proposals for the development of small-scale battery storage projects involving technologies from South Korea, Denmark, and Germany were announced during 2019.  There are six battery projects (156MW) connected to the electricity grid on the island of Ireland.  The nascent solar power generation (261MW capacity) also experienced activity with the entry of several Nordic players providing impetus to a sector that hopes to install 1.5GW by 2030.  The €3mn AdD HyStor hybrid flywheel energy project is moving to the commercial development trial.  Led by Irish company Schwungrad Energie, it is being developed in association with German companies Adaptive Balancing Power and Freqcon and the University of Sheffield (UK).  In July 2020, 63 solar projects corresponding to 767.32 GWh of solar energy secured provisional approval to sign contracts under Ireland’s new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS-1) program. 

Green Hydrogen

Ireland is the early stages of developing its green hydrogen sector in line with the EU Green Hydrogen strategy within the EU’s Green Deal program.  The UCD Energy Institute published a 2019 paper on Ireland’s need for a national hydrogen strategy.  ESB has announced a green hydrogen project as part of its joint venture with Equinor for the Moneypoint Renewable Hub in Clare.   Similarly, NY-based New Fortress Energy has proposed a green hydrogen facility alongside its planned LNG terminal at Ballylongford in Kerry.  Finally, EI-H2 is planning a 50MW electrolysis green hydrogen plant at Aghada in Cork.

Opportunities

The second onshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction (RESS-2) process will commence in March 2022.    There is a pipeline of 56 battery projects, equating to 2,290MW of battery storage, in different stages of planning or development in Ireland.  Offshore wind projects will emerge as a major driver over the next decade with ‘floating wind’ plans along Ireland’s western coast offering attractive business opportunities.   Wind Energy Ireland has published a comprehensive analysis of Ireland’s potential offshore wind energy supply chain that highlights measures needed to underpin the sector’s planned development.   The rapid evolution of Ireland’s green hydrogen sector should also offer market potential.

Future opportunities will be driven by the 2021 Climate Action Plan as the government outlines proposals to achieve its stated goals of an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions between 2021 and 2030 (equating to a 51% reduction over the decade) and to attaining net zero emissions by 2050.   It will build upon the 2019 Climate Action Plan that outlined (1) phase-out of coal- and peat-fired electricity generation; (2) increased renewable electricity projects encompassing 3.5GW of offshore renewable energy, 1.5GW of grid-scale solar energy and 8.2GW increased onshore wind capacity; and (3) increased demand for renewable projects by way of Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs).

Resources

  • Department of Environment, Climate & Communications (DECC)
  • Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU)
  • Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)
  • Wind Energy Ireland
  • EirGrid
  • Ervia
  • ESB Networks
  • Gas Networks Ireland
  • MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine
  • UCD Energy Institute: The need for a Hydrogen Strategy for Ireland: (https://energyinstitute.ucd.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/UCD-Energy-Institute-The-need-for-a-Hydrogen-Strategy-for-Ireland.pdf)
  • Irish Academy of Engineering:
  • Public Procurement Portal (eTenders):

 

For more information about Ireland’s Renewables sector, please contact:

Padraig O’Connor

Commercial Advisor – Renewables Sector

U.S. Commercial Service Ireland

Tel: +353.87.2314726

Email: Padraig.O’Connor@trade.gov