The Government has supported renewable energy projects to the tune of €213.2m through targeted schemes since 2003 and the bulk of subsidies for renewable electricity generation paid under these schemes has been for wind. This is according to statistics released recently by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
The primary support mechanisms for renewable, including wind farms, are the alternative energy requirement (AER) schemes and the renewable energy feed-in-tariff (REFIT) schemes. These schemes were introduced to incentivise the development of renewable electricity generation capacity necessary to allow Ireland to meet its target of meeting 40 per cent of electricity demand from renewable generation by 2020.
It is understood this target must be achieved in order for Ireland to meet its binding obligation of 16 per cent of total energy demand to be met from renewable sources by 2020.
The AER scheme, which was operated in the mid 2000s, was a series of six competitive tender schemes to support new renewable generation. The scheme was subsequently replaced by the feed-in tariff scheme known as REFIT.
It is understood the AER schemes were all introduced prior to full electricity market liberalisation. REFIT is based around 15-year power purchase agreements between generators and suppliers that provide developers with the necessary certainty required to finance their projects.
The following table presents the costs for both AER and REFIT since 2003 (the 2003 figure for AER is cumulative from the year 2000):