The renewable energy sector has undergone a considerable transformation over the last 10 years, with the share of renewable electricity generation more than doubling to 30.1% in 2017. However, we must step up the scale of our ambition even further in order to meet our climate ambitions. It is my intention to set a target of 70% for renewable electricity by 2030.
I am currently developing an all of government Climate Action Plan, to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change, with actions across all areas such as heat, electricity, transport and agriculture according to strict timelines.
Transitioning to green energy is an integral part of that Plan. Analysis and modelling to underpin the Plan is assessing a range of options to ensure that Ireland meets its 2030 climate and energy ambitions. It is my intention that our ambition in terms of renewable electricity will step up significantly from the 55% set out in the draft National Energy and Climate Plan up to the new target of 70%. The plan will identify a range of technical, regulatory, legislative and economic factors that arise in going beyond this figure. The impact on the costs of electricity, affordability for consumers and business competitiveness of setting higher renewable electricity targets also has to be considered.
In order to meet the 70% RES-E target, major capital investment will be needed in new generation capacity, system service infrastructure and electricity transmission and distribution networks. A review will also be needed to the policy and regulatory framework to incentivise electricity storage, which will be critical to absorbing high levels of renewable generation on to the system. In addition, increased interconnection will be required to facilitate the large upscaling in onshore and offshore wind required so that we can balance the grid and ensure supply security.
The new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is critical to meeting Ireland's contribution to the EU's 2030 renewable energy targets and will be designed to achieve its targets in the a cost competitive way. Private sector funding though corporate contracting will also be essential for meeting higher levels of ambition to increase renewable energy supply and deliver on long term decarbonisation of the electricity sector. This will also reduce consumer costs through a reduction in the Public Service Obligation levy.
The intention is to finalise and publish the whole of Government Climate Action Plan within the next few weeks and this in turn will feed into the National Energy and Climate Plan process, which is due to be finalised and submitted to the Commission in December.