Offshore: Cautious response to Irish fixed tariffs

The Republic of Ireland government's new tariff for electricity from offshore wind farms is seen as a step in the right direction by the Irish wind industry. Under the fixed price Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (Refit) system of support, energy minister Eamon Ryan has set a price of EUR140/MWh compared to EUR66/MWh for large onshore projects.

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Prices are guaranteed for 15 years and are available for projects with planning consent, a grid connection offer and a power purchase agreement.

However, the price is not linked to the consumer price index to compensate for inflation, which Michael Walsh from the Irish Wind Energy Association says is critical for offshore wind where operational costs are a more significant element of overall costs. "You would only need a few years' high inflation and you would bankrupt an offshore project very quickly if it is not keeping pace," he says.

Brian Britton of the National Offshore Wind Association agrees. "The terms (of the Refit) announced are not sufficiently attractive to make Ireland competitive in accessing the limited pool of investment and technological expertise available when compared with better packages announced in the last six months by other EU countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom," he says.

The government's Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources refutes this, maintaining that the prices have been set "considerably high" to stimulate investment and support high start-up costs in the sector.

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