Community renewable energy projects will play an important role in delivering up to 80% renewable electricity on the grid by 2030. The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is the main Government support to help deliver on this target. RESS supports communities in a variety of ways including through a separate category for community projects and a mandatory community benefit fund for every project supported in the scheme.
The first RESS auction included a dedicated community category in which seven projects have been selected for support, five of which are collaborations with commercial developers. My aim is to ensure the delivery of some 100 community renewable electricity generation projects by 2030. In future onshore RESS auctions, there will be additional capacity allocated to the community category and I have decided that only fully community-owned projects will be eligible to apply as per the recently published RESS-2 terms and conditions.
In order to ensure an adequate pipeline of community renewable electricity projects I have allocated further capital funding in Budget 2022 for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to stimulate locally-owned community energy projects. The funding allocated will enable SEAI to deploy a range of capacity-building supports including an information warehouse, trusted intermediary and advisor services, and financial grant supports all of which are vital to support community owned RESS projects being developed.
My Department has established a RESS Communities Steering Board, made up of the key state players and several community advocates, to provide strategic guidance on how best to maximise community involvement in RESS.
RESS will be supplemented by the new Micro-Generation Support Scheme which will provide local communities even more opportunity to participate in the transition to renewable energy.