Microgeneration scheme could support solar panels on 70,000 properties

Rolling out a microgeneration scheme from next year has “potential to be among the most impactful climate measures introduced this decade”, according to the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

Approved by the Cabinet this week, it will enable households, small businesses, farmers and community groups to get paid from next September for excess solar power though installation of 1 million solar PV panels on rooftops in 70,000 properties in coming years.

Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan said the scheme “creates opportunities for domestic, community, farming and small commercial customers to take the first steps towards investment in renewable technologies which can play a role in shaping electricity demand and decarbonising homes and businesses”.

“The enabling framework for microgenerators will support homes and businesses to participate as active energy citizens, reduce their energy costs and contribute to carbon-reduction targets,” he added.

While this electricity is primarily designed to be used where it is generated, energy consumers will be compensated for excess electricity sent back to the grid, confirmed ISEA chief executive Conall Bolger.

SEAI grants of up to €2,400 will be maintained for domestic customers to cover upfront costs of installing solar panels or other similar technologies. Businesses, farms and community buildings up to 5.9 kilowatts (KW) will also be eligible for grants.

Mr Bolger said people who wanted to play their part in decarbonising Ireland had a new option – “at a time when energy bills are soaring this will empower many more people to reduce their costs and dependency on energy markets”.