I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 94 together.
The high level design of the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) was approved by Government in July 2018. The RESS has been designed to deliver Ireland’s renewable electricity contribution towards an EU-wide renewable energy target of 32% out to 2030, within a competitive auction-based, cost effective framework.
The high level design set out an indicative timetable of RESS auctions, with the first proposed to open in 2019 and the second in 2020. However the ultimate auction timetable and volumes to be procured within each round will be determined based on the analysis carried out as part of the development of the National Energy and Climate Plan, the trajectory targets for renewables under the Governance Regulation, as well as assessment of the supply pipeline of eligible projects to ensure competitive outcomes for consumers.
Since the RESS high level design was approved by Government, my Department has been progressing the RESS design across several work streams including the EU state aid approval process; the development of an enabling framework for community participation; and the detailed design of the first auction. In parallel, the All of Government Climate Plan, which is due to be finalised shortly, will include a number of proposals that may need to be accommodated within the final detailed RESS design. 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 intention is to obtain Government approval for the final RESS design including the first RESS auction once final policy decisions have been determined. The Scheme will then be subject to State Aid clearance from the EU Commission.
Once the final design has been approved by Government, further relevant stakeholder engagement will take place to ensure the delivery of RESS in a clear and transparent manner for all.