The Green Party said the grants are welcome but don't go far enough
The Government has launched a new grant scheme encouraging homeowners to install solar power generators.
The pilot scheme offers grants for the installation of solar photovoltaic panels and battery storage systems.
Environment Minister Denis Naughten said the scheme will allow people to turn their home into their very own “renewable power station.”
He said homeowners can save around €220 a year in electricity costs by taking advantage of the scheme.
“Micro generation 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.
“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 Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland said the energy produced can also be “exported from your house into the electrical network on your street.”
However, the Green Party described the announcement as a “disappointment” and warned that the Government had failed to guarantee the right to sell electricity back to the grid at a fixed price.
Party leader Eamon Ryan 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,” he said.
He said the plan 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,” he said.
“Any electricity put into the grid will not be paid for.”
He rejected the suggestion that surplus electricity should be used for water heating - insisting 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.”
The party has warned that it is a mistake to restrict the grant to owner-occupied homes.
It said solar photovoltaic generation is ideally suited to large commercial rooftops and said the Government should be paying businesses to install rooftop solar.
The grant is available to all homes built before 2011 – and will be reviewed in six months time.
The review will assess installation costs and examine how the scheme can be expanded.
SEAI chief Jim Gannon said the grant will “help build a stronger supply chain in Ireland and raise both awareness and experience of micro generation with homeowners.”
“As we move towards a smarter grid, and a market that rewards increased participation of individuals and businesses, programmes such as this will help us to define the best pathway to a lower carbon future,” he said.
Minister Naughten also announced an increase in the levels of grants for home insulation.
He said grants for “attic insulation, cavity wall insulation and internal wall insulation” have all been increased.
“These increases can save householders up to €600 per year on heating bills through better insulation,” he said.
Mr Gannon said reducing energy use through by installing proper insulation “remains the most cost effective way of enjoying the benefits of a more sustainable home.”