Recommendation 6 of the Third Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change calls for the State to act to ensure the greatest possible levels of community ownership in all future renewable energy projects, by encouraging communities to develop their own projects and by requiring that developer-led projects make share offers to communities to encourage greater local involvement and ownership. To avoid confusion, recommendation 6 refers to ownership of projects by communities and citizens and not public or state ownership. This recommendation is largely reflective of the ambition laid out in the 2015 Energy White Paper, the development of which revealed a strong citizen and community desire to be consulted on, and participate in, Ireland’s energy transition and the development of energy-related projects.
Recommendation 6 also aligns with the policy objectives which have shaped the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), the high level design for which was approved by Government in July. As well as delivering Ireland’s contributions to an EU-wide binding renewable energy target of 32% by 2030, broadening the mix of renewable technologies and enhancing security of energy supply, the new RESS will deliver on the commitment to increase community and citizen participation in, and benefit from, renewable electricity projects.
Communities have been designed into the fabric of the new scheme, and key to the delivery of this ambition will be the development of an enabling framework for community participation. Two specific measures to be developed as part of the implementation of RESS include: mandatory investment opportunities for communities and citizens in developer-led projects; and financial and technical support for community-led projects including delivery of key capacity building measures. This broadly aligns with the Citizens Assembly recommendations.