22 May 2024
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Irish Energy Sector Update: Key Changes in the RESS 4 Terms and Conditions

To The Point
(3 min read)

With the qualification application window for the fourth Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction ("RESS 4") having opened on Monday 20 May 2024, our Energy & Infrastructure team take a look at some key changes in the RESS 4 terms and conditions ("RESS 4 Conditions").

The RESS 4 Conditions reflect learnings from previous RESS auctions, a number of which we cover below.

First, the auction qualification process has been streamlined to simplify the requirements on RESS applicants. For instance, the number of director's declarations that applicants need to submit along with their qualification application has been reduced. Applicants must now submit a "Qualification Declaration" by way of sworn affidavit, which needs to be signed by a commissioner of oaths (instead of a practising solicitor as was previously required) or the equivalent in another jurisdiction, where the director making the declaration is not resident in Ireland. 

Second, a new "Relief Event" mechanism is included in the RESS 4 Implementation Agreement. This mechanism allows a Generator to claim an adjustment (up to a maximum of 24 months) to Milestone Completion Dates, where it has suffered a delay owing to a Relief Event (described below). The Relief Event mechanism includes provision for the term of RESS 4 Support to run past the RESS 4 Support End-Date (up to 31 December 2045). In addition, it provides scope for a Generator to withdraw from RESS 4 without penalty.  

A Relief Event is limited to the following two events:

A) a System Operator Delay – where the TSO (EirGrid) or DSO (ESB Networks) notifies the Generator that the relevant connection longstop date contained in its Grid Connection Agreement will be delayed or will likely be delayed by reason of an action or inaction of the TSO or DSO or through an inability of the TSO or DSO to permit outages to accommodate the Generator's grid connection. The delay must be outside of the Generator's control and must cause the relevant connection longstop date to fall after the Longstop Date in the Implementation Agreement. In order to claim a System Operator Delay, a Generator must notify the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (the "Minister") as soon as practicable and in any event no later than 20 Working Days from the TSO / DSO notification referred to above; and

B) a JR Delay – where the Generator's Planning Permission is subject to a "Judicial Review Challenge" which will affect the Generator's ability to achieve Commercial Operation by the Longstop Date. To claim a JR Delay, a Generator must notify the Minister as soon as practicable and no later than 20 Working Days after the occurrence of the event or, where the Judicial Review Challenge exists at the date of the Implementation Agreement, no later than 20 Working Days after the entry into the Implementation Agreement.

Third, the time period for achieving Commercial Operation has been increased by approximately 18 months (the Longstop Date is 31 December 2029) when compared to previous RESS auctions. This longer time period will be welcomed by developers in light of recent market issues impacting the delivery of renewable projects such as supply chain pressures and longer lead-in timeframes for materials. It also aligns with the milestone extension dates granted for RESS 2 projects in December 2023.

In seeking to address issues which are perceived to have adversely impacted upon previous RESS auctions, these new features of the RESS 4 Conditions could be significant in increasing the attractiveness of RESS 4 as a route to market for renewable developers. They certainly appear to have been well received by developers, sponsors and lenders alike. The Government will be hoping that these changes contribute to a positive outcome for RESS 4, in terms of increased auction turnout, increased competition and in the ultimate successful delivery of a significant number of new renewable electricity projects.  

The RESS 4 auction qualification window is now open and closes at 5 pm on 4 June 2024. 



If you have any queries please contact Gavin Blake or Phelim McGeady from the Energy & Infrastructure team at Addleshaw Goddard Ireland. 

To the Point 

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