Wind Energy in Ireland
2021 wind energy numbers
While new records for wind energy output were set and significant new policies supporting wind energy were announced, 2021 was not an auspicious year for wind energy deployment in Ireland. Despite ambitious 2030 renewable energy targets, only 9.3MW of new capacity was installed.
This was due to a gap between the termination of the legacy REFIT support scheme and the commencement of installation of capacity under the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS). There is a pipeline of fully consented onshore projects for the latter, and a surge in construction is expected in 2022 for wind farms awarded support under the 1st RESS auction. Significant progress was made on the consenting, leasing, grid connection, and support scheme for offshore wind in 2022, the earliest date for the commencement of operation of new offshore wind farms is 2027.
A significant number of wind energy research projects were successful in obtaining funding under SEAI’s 2022 RD&D funding call. Irish entities were also successful partners in funding awards for EU wind energy research projects. Ireland also increased its participation in IEA Wind Tasks to an all-time high of 17 after a 2021 SEAI call for participants.
Visit the Irish Wind Energy Research Network webpage, and please review Ireland's chapter in the IEA Wind TCP 2021 Annual Report.
The Irish Government published its updated Climate Action plan in October 2021. The updated plan increased the 2030 renewable electricity target from 70% to 80% of electricity demand, with indicative targets of 8.2GW of onshore wind energy and an increased offshore wind energy target of 5GW for 2030. The Government published a schedule of RESS auctions and associated procurement volumes to deliver upon these targets. The updated plan includes additional actions to support achieving these and other renewable energy targets.
The results of the first 2020 auction of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS 1) comprised almost 0.5 GW of wind energy projects to yield close to 1.5 TWh/a generation (reported in the IEA Wind 2020 Annual Report). Projects awarded support will commence commissioning in 2022. Updated terms and conditions for the 2nd RESS Auction were published in 2021, and this auction will be held in early 2022.
Progress & Operational Details
Only 9MW of new wind power capacity was installed in 2021. This was because the commissioning of capacity under the prior REFIT 2 scheme ceased in 2020, and the first projects winning support under the replacement RESS scheme will be completed in 2022.
Wind energy met 29.4% of electricity demand in 2021, well below the 36% in 2020. This was due to a combination of a low wind year and increased electricity demand, while little new capacity was added. The average capacity factor was 25%, down from 30% in 2020. Dispatch down, or curtailment and constraint of wind energy output, decreased to 7.3% in 2021, down from a peak of 11.4% in 2020, due to both low wind output and an increase in the grid System Non-Synchronous Penetration (SNSP) limit. The SNSP was increased to 70%, on a trial basis, in January 2021, this limit was made permanent in April 2021, and a trial 75% SNSP limit was also initialled in April 2021.
National RDD Priorities and Budget
SEAI initiated Technology Mapping in 2021 to inform national energy research prioritisation. The results will be published in 2022.
Following on from SEAI’s 2021 call for participants in IEA Tasks, Ireland increased the number of IEA Wind Tasks in which it participates to 17.