No framework for collective self-consumption in multi-tenant buildings exists yet as 97% of residential buildings are single dwellings (Irish Central Statistical office 2016).
RECs and CECs
Different types of interlinked concepts are developed that refer to, among others, local renewable energy generation. RECs are part of these concepts. A new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) was adopted in 2020 (Irish Government 2020). Within the RESS, so-called community-led projects are introduced which receive special privileges for renewable generation. The community led projects have to:
- Be part of a “Sustainable Energy Community”, a concept that exists in Ireland for several years. SECs are broader, regional initiatives, while community-led projects are more specific, local projects.
- The Declaration of community-led project must identify the SEC to which the project is correlated and the relationship between the applicant and the SEC.
- The majority ownership (51%) must be a Renewable Energy Community having as primary purpose community benefits (environmental, economic or social) rather than financial profit.
- At least 51% of all profits, dividends, and surpluses are returned to the REC.
- The project size for energy generation is limited to 5MW. Ireland also adopted a new grid connection policy (ECP) in 2020 assisting community-led renewable energy projects to get a connection offer on a preferred basis, thereby reducing implementation barriers (Commission for Regulation of Utilities 2020). The Irish grid connection policy’s principal objective is to allow those projects which are ready for implementation to have an opportunity to connect to the network (ECP projects). Shareholders or members of a REC need to be located (in the case of SMEs or local authorities) or resident (in the case of natural persons) in the proximity of an ECP project.
The REC definition above was used as a qualification for participation in the RESS Auctions which were held last year. However, there is ongoing work to narrow in on the qualifications to be considered an REC (specifically relating to the consideration of the proximity requirements.
There are some initial considerations that CECs could encapsulate one or more RECs, such that a CEC would have a wider geographic scope, but could also fulfil the purpose of connecting several RECs which are not in close proximity to one another. A public consultation was recently outlining some preliminary considerations for the development of energy communities (both RECs and CECs) and participation by active consumers in the energy sector. It can be found here (CRU/21028).