A conference on wind energy yesterday heard calls on the Government to incentivise investment in the industry in the budget to allow the public, communities, and small investors to buy into the sector.
The Irish Wind Energy Association says that measures would assist the State to reach its 2020 carbon emission target.
The incentives proposed by IWEA in its recent budget submission and in its submission to the government’s Green Paper on Ireland’s energy future include:
- Allowing individuals to claim tax relief for investing sums ranging from €100 to €10,000, with local financial institutions and credit unions to be used for investment in certified renewable energy projects;
- Universal Social Charge relief for investments within the lower end of the investment scale from €250;
- Schemes to encourage further wind microgeneration of electricity, similar to European schemes, that IWEA believes would provide a significant stimulus for a broader societal approach to Ireland’s energy policy and help address climate change.
Speaking ahead of the IWEA annual conference in Kilkenny, chief executive Kenneth Matthews said that individuals and communities have limited ability to invest in renewable energy projects.
“Working together with the Government and other key stakeholders, we are interested in creating more opportunities for members of the public and small investors, as we believe this will help stimulate investment and economic growth, help Ireland reach its 2020 targets, promote a low-carbon economy, and further enhance social acceptance for wind energy projects.”
He said the proposals would mirror moves in countries such as the UK, where crowd-financing platforms for renewable energy projects have been oversubscribed by smaller investors.
“Ireland is at a crossroads with regards to its energy policy,” said Mr Matthews. “Our abundant renewable energy resources present a fantastic opportunity to pursue a sustainable energy future and, at the same time, realise a phenomenal economic opportunity.”
Meanwhile, gardaí were called to monitor a protest by anti-wind and pylon groups outside the conference at the Lyrath Hotel in Kilkenny.
Adrian O’Neill of the Old Leighlin Against Wind Turbines group in Co Carlow said that the protest was a show of strength in opposition to the “over-zealous” development of wind farms.
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