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.
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.
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.