The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) supports communities in a variety of ways including a separate category for community projects and a mandatory community benefit fund for every project supported in the scheme.
These supports were developed following a comprehensive research report by Ricardo Environmental Consultancy published in 2017 as an evidence base to support the development of RESS. The report ‘Assessment of models to support community ownership of renewable energy in Ireland’, evaluated international best practice in community energy and helped inform the high level design of RESS which was publicly consulted on through the development of the terms and conditions of the RESS auctions.
The first RESS auction included a dedicated community projects category in which seven projects have been selected for support, five of which are collaborations with commercial developers. 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. he funding allocated will enable SEAI to deploy a range of capacity-building supports including information dissemination, trusted intermediary and advisor services and financial grant supports, all of which are vitally important to support community owned RESS project development.