Wind energy in Ireland continued on a strong growth trajectory in 2017. The country added unprecedented 568 MW of wind power capacity— a 20% increase that was almost 50% greater the previous annual record. Wind energy accounted for 24.8% of national electricity demand, an 18.7% increase from 2016. A high level of construction continues to build out capacity under the now closed, REFIT support scheme, which will help deliver on Ireland’s 2020 targets.
The high-level design of a new auction-based renewable electricity support scheme was published in 2017. Community investment in and ownership of renewable electricity plants is central to the design of the new scheme. Extensive changes are under way in the electricity market, including a revamped capacity payment mechanism and new system services arising from the “DS3” R&D program. Wind plants were qualified to tender for many of the latter services in tests during 2017.
SEAI formed the Irish Wind Energy Research Network in 2017, which held its first meeting in September. The network aims to connect and provide continuity to research projects, as well as inform national wind energy research strategy. It will initially achieve this by providing a forum to highlight recent research projects and to facilitate informal networking among researchers.