ESB double speak on renewables

ESB double speak on renewables

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  • 30th September 2016

John Mullins, CEO, Amarenco Solar, said:

“According to the ESB, the State should scrap wind farm subsidies from 2020 and not introduce incentives to develop solar energy. It says that consumers will not benefit, as the cost of developing technology is falling.

Amarenco agrees that all of the climate change response should not come from electricity, but the 40% target for electricity was set on the basis that it was more difficult to achieve higher targets in transport and heat.

ESB receives a significant amount of wind farm subsidies at this point in time and Amarenco questions why ESB want to wait until 2020 to remove wind subsidies.

The simple truth is that wind cannot exist without subsidy and current subsidies need to remain in order for Ireland to get anywhere close to the 40%, a number that ESB Renewable Generation has a vested interest in. It is clear that public opposition to wind farms is driving us towards alternatives. The next cheapest alternative is solar.

As a company that buys significant solar plant for its French operation (where subsides are confirmed out to 2023), Amarenco is bemused to understand how the ESB can state that solar will operate without subsidy at a point in the future in a Irish context. This may happen post-2030, but we still will not be sufficiently decarbonised to meet new targets.

As a developer of solar in Ireland, Amarenco can state that ESB Networks, a subsidiary of ESB, has been far from enthusiastic about distributed generation such as utility scale solar farms. One has to try and understand why ESB would be anti-solar in the Republic, while at the same time it has a joint-venture in solar in Northern Ireland, where it also enjoys higher subsidies.

The reality is that solar complements wind and as a result allows a higher capacity of renewables to be connected to the distribution and transmission grid. High penetrations of solar at the distribution level will reduce the requirement for centralised generators and transmission connection – the common denominator is that ESB does both and profitably.

In fact, the ESB attempted to develop solar farms in the Republic of Ireland but have found that they are too late in the market for grid access, because more nimble organisations develop on a quicker scale.

Could this be why they do not want solar? It is an acceptable approach for Northern Ireland customers but not for the Republic – this is clear double speak.

As regards ESB paying a higher subsidy, it has no problem receiving all of the subsidies it currently gets from customers for peat and wind. Is it willing to return these subsidies?

To say that solar prices are on a massive trajectory downwards is hyperbole by ESB. The EU currently places a levy on all Chinese module imports so cost reductions in solar technology have been limited. three to five percent per annum is expected in the market for the next five years – this is not massive.

Wind technology continues to reduce in price, if that is the logic why do we not stop wind subsidies today until they reach grid parity in price.”

(Ends)

Issued on behalf of Amarenco Solar by Heneghan PR

Enquiries – Nigel Heneghan – tel: (086) 258 7206

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