The islands of Ireland have the potential to engage in the clean energy transition by sustainably harnessing local resources and reducing energy dependence on the mainland. Island citizens are at the heart of this transition, bringing tangible benefits such as local jobs creation, economic activity and lower energy bills. Last year, Ireland signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative, recognising the important role islands can play in realising the objectives of the European Green Deal. It sets out the objective to establish a long-term framework for cooperation to advance the energy transition for islands.
The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is the main government support to help deliver on Ireland’s 70% renewable electricity target by 2030. The scheme has a number of community features designed to ensure community participation. Of particular interest to island communities are the provisions of the Community Benefit Fund and the Community-led category. The former provides for all RESS projects, including offshore projects, to share project revenues with local communities for sustainable purposes and the latter provides a route to market for community-led projects. To better support communities in bringing forward community-led projects, an enabling framework is currently under development by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, and to this end I have allocated a €3 million capital supports budget this year.