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Contact Details:

Neil Stewart
Irish Hydropower Association
tel: 071 967 0100
email: info@irishhydro.com







The current situation:
A 1997 competition resulted in the award of several power purchase agreements to hydro schemes. The 1997 competition projects were supposed to be completed by the end of 1999, but none went forward as expected. Subsequently a new joint venture 95% owned by the utility and 5% by the competition applicant expected to commission five small hydro projects, four from the ’97 competition and one Thermie-aided.

They will be expected to add c.9.7GWh p.a. to small hydro generation into the public network, which is currently, and since 1994, about 38.5GWh p.a. The schemes are to be monitored from Bristol, England. Their outturn economics will be evaluated to determine the future attitude of the utility towards small-hydro joint venture investment.

The future:
It is expected that the next tendering competition open to small hydro may declare a fixed purchase price that will definitely achieve a purchase agreement, removing one damaging element for small players – uncertainty.

It is intended that hydro with its more stable output pattern form some part of Ireland’s CO2 reduction strategy, despite a price for medium scale wind projects in the range 28-35€/MWh in the 1997 competition. Ireland has experienced extraordinary economic growth for a developed nation, resulting in a far more arduous CO2 reduction task than for more slowly expanding European economies.

There is discussion as to means of facilitating small-scale (<100kW) generation, given the less economic scale of such projects – expected to incorporate new community projects and water-mill renovations. Proposals exist for “Distributed Net Metering”, whereby participatory investors in a small RE generator would be able to offset their metered electricity import against a local generator’s metered output, in prescribed proportions.