Our annual "What's Another Year?" bulletin is a snapshot of the key legal and regulatory developments which we can expect over the course of 2024, across a range of sectors and practice areas.

Ireland has been slow to implement EU legislation designed to enable energy and climate transition, as evidenced by security of supply concerns, difficulties gaining access to the grid and extended delays in implementing the Clean Energy Package.

In 2024, the challenges arising from this failure will increase. Impact on the adequacy of our energy system will become more apparent with consequences for progress in transport, industry and buildings.

2024 is the year to implement Fit for 55, the new package of EU law for energy transition. However, the 2018/2019 Clean Energy Package is still being implemented. This will leave the State and the regulatory authority increasingly exposed to the risk of litigation, whether through actions to enforce EU law, or though climate action litigation to hold the Government to its legally enshrined commitments.

If EU energy legislation is not implemented, the Government will not meet its Climate Action Plan targets. These include that 80% of electricity consumption will come from renewable power in 2030 (see more in our summary). Ireland will also have to buy credits for failure to meet EU emissions reduction and renewable energy targets, the proceeds of which will be allocated to successful Member States to further their climate transition. It is difficult to see how, without implementing EU energy legislation, we will stay in our carbon budgets, the first of which wraps up at the end of 2025.


Our 2023 Climate Action Plan targets a fivefold increase in renewable energy capacity by 2030. This will not happen if investment in enabling infrastructure does not accelerate.

EU law contains several mechanisms to support economically efficient investment. One such mechanism seeks to apply fair allocation of risk in project development: If a Member State is not yet equipped for market-based redispatch, certain operators of generation, storage or demand response are entitled to be kept financially indifferent to being dispatched down.

Late 2023 saw this entitlement vindicated by the High Court in Ireland, which quashed the Single Electricity Market Committee's incorrect approach to its implementation. Final orders are awaited in early 2024.

Because the entitlement is subject to whether the operator's connection agreement has a guarantee of firm delivery, implementation in 2024 of the regulatory authority's new firm access methodology will also be closely watched.

We expect in early 2024 to see a new connection policy and development of the pilot project on renewable hubs.

As the EU identifies actions for the next 18 months, 2024 will be a year for the State and the regulatory authority to tackle questions around required regulatory reforms and infrastructural investments to facilitate Ireland's decarbonisation objectives.


Increasing renewable energy generation capacity fivefold will not be possible without increased grid interconnection between Ireland and its neighbours. The Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications has recognised this in the 2023 National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection.

The Government commits (at policy commitment five) to support a further connection to Great Britain by 2030 beyond the completion of the Greenlink Interconnector in 2024, and states that this will require engagement between stakeholders with the proposed projects that have the most realistic prospects of delivery by 2030 as soon as possible.

Concrete actions now need to be identified to give such projects a clear way forward.


2024 should see an outcome to the private wires consultation. As we outlined in our briefing, Private Wires: First Principles, it is hoped that 2024 will result in a helpful policy decision to at least allow industry participants and large business customers to access the mechanisms for direct line permitting, contemplated for some years now by EU law.


As Ireland works to implement the Clean Energy Package, some obligations under the next package of legislation, Fit for 55, must be transposed into Irish law by as early as 1 July 2024. This will involve expediting permit granting procedures for renewable energy projects, as required by amendments to the Renewable Energy Directive. In terms of implementation, action is now required as indicated by the Commission in its recent European Wind Power Package.

Work will also need to be done to meet 2025 transposition dates in the revised Energy Efficiency Directive and to comply with the new Regulation on deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure, which has a series of deadlines for roll out of EV charging infrastructure.

"Fit for 55, must be transposed into Irish law by as early as 1 July 2024."


In addition to Fit for 55, we will see enactment of amendments to the Internal Market in Electricity Regulation and Directive, which underpin regulation of Ireland's energy sector. Agreed amendments are here. Since the initial proposal (which we looked at here) there have been significant developments. It has been recognised that not all essential services can be delivered through a market based on energy prices. Capacity remuneration mechanisms are to be made a structural element of the market. Member States may introduce new support schemes for demand response and storage, and system operators may procure demand reduction at peak hours.

A central principle of this legislation is mainstreaming renewable energy in a competitive, market-based system, capable of reflecting the long-term benefits of energy transition for the environment and for customers. Catching up requires the revamping of technical systems for energy scheduling and dispatch, to allow for market-based energy trading.

It also calls for a treatment of ancillary services that is cognisant of their role in supporting a non-synchronous energy mix. It could be queried whether there are alternatives to a day ahead market (which is the direction of travel in Ireland, as recently confirmed) to remunerate what are essentially services required to ensure grid stability.

These will not be insignificant projects, but the need to achieve them has been known for quite some time.


Offshore development

Policy development continues, following the Statement on the Framework for Phase Two. An Indicative Roadmap for Phase 2.1 sets out 2024 dates, including for a Final South Coast DMAP. It is now understood that the draft Phase 2 DMAP may include one or two projects for ORESS 2.1 (which would be delivered by the same developer).

Phase 1 projects not in ORESS 1 will now step through the grid connection pathway. A formal decision by the regulatory authority on grid access for Phase 2 projects is anticipated in early 2024, as is a consultation on the revenue recovery model to be applied to EirGrid as offshore asset owner. According to the National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection, we can expect an offshore transmissions strategy in Q1 2024.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan II, consulted on in 2023, is intended to inform Phase 3 and an Enduring Regime, now to be known as the Future Framework. A Future Framework Offshore Wind Policy Statement is anticipated in Q1 2024.

A National Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind is anticipated in Q2 2024 and a National Ports Policy will be consulted on in Q3 2024. The Marine Protected Areas Bill is expected to be published and progressed through the legislative process.

Onshore development

The next onshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, RESS 4, is scheduled to run in 2024. Given the low volumes in RESS 3, a RESS 4 auction could remove features that unnecessarily restrict projects from competing. Examples include the rules allowing only those with a connection offer letter or connection agreement to compete (whereas earlier auctions permitted entry of projects being batch processed); rules preventing projects from relying on planning consents or grid offers/agreements relied on in previous auctions; and the decision not to give time for projects whose planning permission is judicially reviewed.


The regulatory authority will develop a Demand Strategy. This will include a consultation on new demand connections for large energy users ("LEUs") with a policy decision paper anticipated in Q1 2024.

The call for evidence around LEU connection policy proposed that customers seeking connections would be required to achieve net zero emissions at time of connection, with System Operators being directed, in the meantime, to take emissions profiles into account in the context of current connection applications. While it may be open to a Member State to impose environmental conditions as part of a planning or other regulatory consenting process, under EU law it is impermissible to take such factors into account when processing a connection application and so any such direction may be vulnerable to challenge.


A key development in the gas sector will be agreement of a recast Regulation and Directive for the internal markets for renewable and natural gases and for hydrogen, both currently undergoing inter-institutional negotiation. Ireland's National Hydrogen Strategy identifies a number of actions that should begin in 2024, and a National Biomethane Strategy is under development.


The close of 2023 saw a new Energy Security Strategy. It incorporates other national policies on energy transition and commits to expediting delivery of energy infrastructure and expanding expertise and capacity available to Government.

A Strategic Gas Emergency Reserve for medium term security will be introduced. The timeline is described as accelerated implementation. It is anticipated that this will be a Floating Reserve Regasification Unit but GNI is to examine this and prepare a substantive proposal by Q2 2024. GNI is also to develop scenarios on the future role of the gas network to support a network transition plan.

2024 is earmarked for transfer of the Inch gas pipeline to GNI for re-purposing. Gas connection policy is to be reviewed (in a way which we think is problematic, as noted above in relation to Demand Strategy), and gas demand flexibility measures (particularly during peak times) introduced by 2025.

In electricity, Capacity Auctions failed to deliver adequate volumes for a number of reasons including low auction price caps. The Strategy flags the work in the CRU's Security of Electricity Supply Programme (which includes procurement of additional temporary emergency capacity and extended availability of older generation capacity) and the Single Electricity Market Committee's follow up actions from the review of the performance of the Capacity Remuneration Mechanism.

It will be vital to see progress in this area in 2024. The Single Electricity Market Committee's consultation of late 2023 on implementation of a refurbishment option and of intermediate length contracts will be worth watching, but supporting new generation capacity though a market-based auction process will be of fundamental importance to security of supply.

For developments as 2024 progresses, look out for our horizon scanner on infrastructure, construction, and energy, published each month on our website.

This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.