New scheme encouraging homeowners to install solar panels launched today

A new scheme encouraging homeowners to install solar panels has been launched this morning.

The pilot scheme offers grants for the installation of solar panels and extra funds to install battery storage systems.

Environment Minister Denis Naughten says the scheme will allow people to turn their home into their very own "renewable power station."

He said homeowners can save around €220 in electricity costs every year by taking advantage of the scheme.

Announcing the grants for homeowners, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD said:

“Turning your home into a renewable power station is now one step closer. Microgeneration is an incredibly exciting space that will allow citizens in local communities to generate their own electricity and contribute towards Ireland’s climate action targets.

"With this grant that I am announcing today, a typical 3-bed semi-detached house would spend about €1,800 on a solar panel system and would save approximately €220 per year on their electricity bills.

The Government is committed to helping citizens reduce their energy use and making clean energy cheaper and affordable to use. The introduction of a grant for household solar PV and further increases to home energy grant amounts demonstrates this commitment.

The Minister added: “The pilot scheme will be subject to a 6-month review at which time the costs of installation will be assessed and further opportunities to broaden this scheme to other groups and other technologies will be explored.”

The scheme will be funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The grant is available for homes built and occupied before 2011 and details of eligibility criteria and how to apply are set out here. A registered solar PV installer must be used and a full list of registered installers is also available on the SEAI website.

The Green Party have described the announcement as a disappointment.

Eamon Ryan.

Speaking in response to the publication of the plan, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan TD said: “While we welcome the fact that there is finally some support for rooftop solar, we are disappointed that what is proposed is not part of a fundamental shift to widespread solar generation.

It will not lead to any increase in the quantity of solar electricity on the grid.

“The support being offered is a grant, instead of guaranteeing a right to sell surplus electricity back to the grid at a fixed price. Any electricity put into the grid will not be paid for. The result is that the scheme suggests that surplus electricity should be diverted to water heating. This is a low-value use of electricity and in fact, any house with a solar hot water panel already has enough hot water for the entire summer.

“Worse still, the grant scheme is only for owner-occupied dwellings, not commercial rooftops. Although warehouses and factories can be very large, rooftop solar is generally too small a scale to go through the bureaucracy of the auction and grid connection system in the recently released Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

Green Party Spokesperson on Climate Change, Councillor David Healy, said: “Solar photovoltaic (PV) is ideally suited to large rooftops, as no extra land is needed and the electricity connection is already in place. We'll need plenty of PV panels on the ground, but it is ridiculous that this policy means they will not be put on all suitable rooftops.”

“As we argued in our submission to the RESS we should be offering a feed in tariff for roof-mounted/building mounted PV.”

- Digital Desk

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