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Lifting EU ban on China's solar panels could help Ireland

The decision by the European Union to lift restrictions on Chinese solar imports will increase the viability of green energy projects in Ireland, an industry group has said.

David Maguire, head of the Irish Solar Energy Association, a representative body, said that the move could bring down the cost of large-scale solar projects here by almost 10 per cent.

The EU announced last week that it was lifting taxes on solar panels imported from China.

The bloc introduced taxes in 2013 after accusing China of selling their solar panels at artificially low prices in order to shut down European competition.

It decided to reverse the decision last week, saying that it would help with the EU's renewable energy targets. The move was welcomed by many in the renewable energy industry, who said that the extra supply and competition should help to make solar projects cheaper.

Mr Maguire said that the change could be particularly helpful in Ireland, where developers were struggling to get projects over the line.

He said the impact on end prices could be larger than it normally would be, as the US has recently introduced tariffs on Chinese solar panels, making it even more attractive to sell into the EU.

“While there is uncertainty over the scale of the impact I think it would be safe to say that there will probably be a reduction of between 7 per cent and 8 per cent, which is a big reduction in cost,” he said.

“It's an important step in the direction [towards commercial viability] in Ireland.”

While many countries with relatively similar climates have large solar industries, there are no commercial-sized solar projects in Ireland.

Several years ago a slew of would-be developers applied for planning permission to build solar farms all over the country with the expectation that a government support system would make building commercially viable.

Such a system has yet to be introduced, leaving much of the land still undeveloped, but the government did recently publish a proposal of how it could fund renewable energy projects which Mr Maguire said would work for the solar industry.

He said that the further reduction in cost as a result of the EU decision would make subsidising solar energy cheaper for the state.

“It's good news for Ireland and for the energy industry generally,” he said.

The Irish Solar Energy Association has previously highlighted the potential for Ireland if a viable solar energy industry were developed in the country.

A report carried out by KPMG, which was commissioned by the lobby group, found that more than 7,000 jobs could be created in the building and operating of solar farms in Ireland.

The association has estimated that state support would cost about €23 million a year. While the potential support needed by the sector has reduced as costs have come down, critics say that the industry should just wait until costs come down to a commercially viable level to build.

The industry has argued that building solar farms would help Ireland to work towards its binding EU 2020 renewable energy targets, of which it is currently due to fall short. By 2020, 16 per cent of Irish energy is due to be produced by renewable energy. For every percentage point the state undershoots, it is liable to be hit with fines of about €100 million.



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European Commission To Remove The Trade Measures

The European Union is preparing to end import controls on solar panels and cells from China after a majority of the EU's Member States backed the move, despite strong opposition from EU ProSun, a joint initiative representing EU solar producers which launched the original complaint back in 2012. The regulations dictated that Chinese solar manufacturers could sell their products in Europe free of any duties if they do so at or above a minimum price that has progressively declined over the length of the policy.

Read the full article on solarpowermanagement.net.



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ISEA welcomes Residential Rooftop Solar PV Scheme

Solar industry bolstered by further government support. The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) welcomes the introduction of a grant scheme for rooftop solar PV by the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE). The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) will be managing the scheme that will provide a contribution of up to €3,800 towards total installation costs.

Read the full press release here.



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SEAI announce solar rooftop grants

The SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) in Ireland has announced they will offer homeowners a grant of up to €3,800 to support the installation of solar PV panels and battery energy storage systems.

Read more on SEAI's website.



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ISEA welcomes RESS Publication

Support Scheme maps out Ireland's renewables plan to 2030

The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) welcomes the High Level Design Paper on RESS published by the Government on Tuesday 24 July. The proposals furnish positive signals for investment in Ireland across the renewables sector and makes history in providing initial government support for the Irish solar industry.

The design paper sets out a coherent and ambitious program for delivery of renewable energy out to 2030 and highlights the necessity for diversity in the energy mix. This is a key component in achieving energy targets and will deliver value for money for Irish consumers. ISEA also welcomes the proposal that Community will play a central role in the future deployment of renewables in Ireland.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) has advised that ongoing consultation with industry will be required to understand how best to deliver certain aspects of the support scheme. ISEA welcomes continued engagement with the Department to further evolve RESS.

There is more than 1GW of solar PV with planning permission and over 1.5GW with grid contracted or in process, ready to progress with the aid of this support scheme. RESS auctions are scheduled to begin in 2019. ISEA calls on the government to extend the capacity in the first auction to allow more projects receive support on time for completion in 2020. Without extending the capacity in the first auction Ireland is likely to miss its 2020 targets.

“Our members have spent a substantial amount of time and resources in developing these projects over the past number of years. Whilst we await some clarification and further detail, we do see RESS as a significant step in the right direction for the Irish renewables industry. As solar PV is the fastest deployable energy technology in the world, our members are looking forward to the prospect of making a major contribution towards achieving Ireland's energy targets.” - Michael McCarthy, CEO, ISEA

The document sets out a target of 55% of electricity to be produced by renewable sources by 2030. If this target is achieved, Ireland would once again be viewed as a leader in the field of renewable energy. With the support of RESS, and the imminent SEAI rooftop solar PV grant scheme, the solar industry is expected to generate 7,000 new jobs over the coming years.

ISEA looks forward to working together with all stakeholders; DCCAE, the Commission for Regulation Utilities (CRU), EirGrid and ESB to ensure projects are delivered on time. We would urge the Department to ensure that adequate resources are made available to those tasked with achieving the ambitious targets set out in the High Level Design Paper.



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Denis Naughten T.D. Minister for Communications Speaks at Project Ireland 2040 - Empowering Communities for Climate Action Event

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., has today launched the Climate Action priority of Project Ireland 2040 "Empowering Communities for Climate Action" at an event in the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. Building on the 2017 National Mitigation Plan, the National Development Plan prioritises €21.8bn for climate action. This substantial investment will both require, and support, behavioural change in individual and communities across Ireland.

Minister Naughten was joined by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD who all have key roles in delivering on our climate objectives within their sectors.

The event included moderated panel discussions exploring the roles and opportunities for communities in the low carbon transition.

Read the press release
Read Denis Naughten T.D. speech transcript



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Image courtesy of SolarPower Europe

European co-legislators seal ambitious deals over Energy Union Governance Regulation and Energy Efficiency Directive

Following on from a very positive policy victory for the solar sector on the new Renewable Energy Directive, EU institutions have sealed an ambitious deal on the new renewable energy Governance Regulation and the Energy Efficiency Directive.

The future framework for the governance of the Energy Union establishes strong foundations to ensure that the ambitious renewable deal agreed last week will be effectively delivered by European Member States. European co-legislators took onboard SolarPower Europe's key proposals, setting the scene for a bright solar future in Europe:

  • Member States are bound by linear trajectories to deliver on their 2030 renewable energy targets: 18% by 2022, 43% by 2025 and finally 65% of their national target will have to be achieved by 2027;
  • The EU Commission is empowered to take action if any gap arises towards the collective delivery of the 2030 renewable energy target and can require under-achieving Member States to put in place additional measures at national level.
  • The solar sector can rely on strong provisions guaranteeing long-term predictability for investors, Member States are required to present detailed 10-year energy strategy plans and update them every 5-years. Member States need to submit their National Energy and Climate Plans by 31 December 2018, with final approval by the European Commission by 31 December 2019.
  • Finally, and importantly, the EU Commission will present a strategy for 2050 National decarbonisation plans, building on a "renewables-based energy system".
The Energy Efficiency Directive represents a turning point in the development of forward-looking regulation, acknowledging the contribution of on-site solar installations to a cleaner and more efficient building stock. This was SolarPower Europe's major priority in the negotiations, and we are delighted to announce very positive results in this matter:

  • The provisional deal sets a 32.5% non-binding target by 2030 with a revision clause in 2023. This target will be achieved through binding requirements for Member States to deliver 0.8% annual savings until 2030;
  • Measures promoting the installation of small-scale solar technologies on or in buildings can be accounted towards the fulfilment of the 0,8% annual saving target, a major achievement, which will foster the development of smarter and cleaner buildings, powered by solar.
  • The future energy efficiency framework will foster the electrification of key sectors of the economy, creating significant opportunities for the solar sector to scale-up and prosper in Europe. The primary energy factor (PEF) for electricity is set at 2.1, reflecting the increasing penetration of renewable energies in the electricity system.
Next steps:
The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union will have to give their formal approvalto the texts agreed in the informal trialogues discussions.

We will monitor the developments closely and keep you informed.

Best Regards,
Your SolarPower Europe Policy Team



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ISEA submission to CRU

ISEA welcome the opportunity to provide our views on the Enduring Connection Policy ECP-1.

As the leading trade association for solar energy in Ireland, ISEA is responding on behalf of our membership of over 50 Irish businesses. ISEA believes that through a collaborative approach the regulator, system operators and project promoters can develop a sustaining process that will allow Ireland to connect more renewable energy projects over the coming years and help Ireland reduce its legally binding carbon emissions.

The proposal to process projects with a valid planning grant is welcomed however ISEA believes that the CRU needs to ensure greater number of projects are delivered in ECP-1. The limits as proposed are too restrictive and by raising the capacity to 1000MW will help deliver more projects in a quicker timeframe.

Download PDF





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ISEA RESS Submission

Response to Public Consultation on the Design of a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme in Ireland

Download PDF





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Planning Considerations for the Development of Ground Mounted Solar

As a responsible representative industry body, The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) wants to ensure that development of utility scale, ground mounted solar is carried out in line with international best practice. This document provides planning considerations for the development of same. Further to this, ISEA acknowledges the growing number of planning applications to local authorities for ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (solar PV) developments in Ireland, and in the absence of guidance, the ISEA has set out what it believes is the appropriate level of best practice development.

The considerations put forward in this document are based on the experience of ISEA members in Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States in the development of solar projects. These have been adapted to comply with Ireland's regulations in relation to planning, environmental protection and agriculture.

Download PDF





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Electricity Connection Policy

On the 2nd November 2017 the CRU published a proposed decision on the Enduring Connection Policy – Stage 1 (ECP-1). This proposed decision is further to the CER/15/284 consultation and sets out the CRU's detailed policy proposals for connection to the electricity system.

Alongside the proposed decision, and to enable successful and timely implementation of the enduring connection policy, the CRU has also issued a direction to the system operators on the transition to ECP-1 (D/17/19787).

Download PDF





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National Planning Framework
Ireland 2040 - Our Plan

A draft of Ireland 2040 – Our Plan is now available to view online.





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Renewable Electricity Support Scheme - Public Consultation

This public consultation focuses on the Design Options of a proposed new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) for Ireland. It follows on from the first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme Technology Review consultation in 2015 which identified a range of renewable electricity technologies to be further assessed. Further, it uses the evidence base of two pieces of work that are being undertaken in parallel. The first study is an Economic Assessment of Renewable Technologies to underpin a new RESS (commissioned by Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE)) and the second study is An Assessment of Models to Support Community Ownership of Renewable Energy in Ireland (commissioned by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)).

This consultation focuses on the design options of a proposed new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme for Ireland.

Download the consultation here.

ISEA's response will be submitted before the November 3rd deadline.





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Media Update - Renewable Energy Support Scheme

The Irish Government is missing a major opportunity and the Renewable Energy Support Scheme outline lacks detail and ambition, the Irish Solar Energy Association has said.

Read the document here.





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Planning Workshop

Click here to view the presentations from the day.





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PV Financing

Just over two years ago the European Commission launched the PV Financing project, part of its research and development program Horizon 2020. The aim of the project is to help the deployment of innovative PV business models in the EU by reducing their financial risk and ease their access to finance. BSW-Solar (Germany) coordinates the project and six other countries are participating: France, Austria, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom and Turkey. Examples of the partners that are contributing to the success of PV Financing include Solar Trade Association.

Learn more about PV Financing here.





 

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