The Timetable, Terms and Conditions and Qualification Information Pack for the first offshore wind renewable electricity support scheme ("ORESS 1") have been published.

Some of the mechanisms proposed for inclusion in the onshore RESS 3 scheme are developed for ORESS 1 - for example, the Unrealised Available Energy Compensation (UAEC), partial indexation, and longer duration of support.  We considered these here. While these seek to mitigate some risk for project developers, a degree of uncertainty around compensation for constraints remains.

Projects competing in the ORESS 1 auction are required to have Maritime Area Consents and a Grid Connection Assessment.

Planning Consent (planning permission for the generating plant, offshore grid connection & substation, and onshore grid connection & substation) must be obtained by a Longstop Date of 30 June 2028. Notably however, the Longstop Date may be extended for two years at the Minister’s discretion if a Judicial Review Challenge is outstanding at any stage between 30 June 2027 and 30 June 2028. Further, for each month during which the Planning Consent is subject to a Judicial Review Challenge, the Target Commercial Operation Date and the Milestone Completion Dates will be extended by a month. A mechanism has also been provided to allow projects to withdraw from ORESS without losing Performance Security, depending on compliance with certain conditions, in the event that their Planning Consent application is refused or not decided on by the Planning Consent Longstop, or where Planning Consent is quashed following a judicial review.

Providing some leeway around planning risk has long been seen as a necessary step to support project delivery, particularly in light of the Performance Security required to be posted for offshore auctions. It will need to be possible for projects to now begin pre-application engagement with An Bord Pleanála.

Also significant is the requirement that each successful applicant must procure that operation and maintenance services are primarily provided from a port in Ireland or Northern Ireland. Upgrading port infrastructure will be critical to the implementation of this term and to meeting Ireland’s renewable energy targets.

In terms of the community supports consulted on, DECC has opted for the Community Benefit Fund approach, whereby projects make a contribution each year based on Loss-Adjusted RESS Metered Quantity multiplied by €2/MWh.

Final auction results are expected in June 2023.