ESB adds over 1 gigawatt of solar power to network in last two years

Minister Eamon Ryan hails ‘rooftop revolution’ as solar can now power 400,000 Irish homes when the sun shines

ESB Networks has added more than 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar power to the electricity network over the last two years, according to figures to be released on Monday. That is enough to run some 400,000 homes when it is sunny and just over 18 per cent of Ireland’s 5.5GW peak demand for electricity.

The figure includes 300 megawatts (MW) of microgeneration, mainly by homeowners with rooftop solar panels and 200MW of solar power with which is not exported to the grid but used on site. It also includes around 500MW of utility-scale solar connections, 369MW of which comes from larger projects connected to the transmission system, managed by EirGrid.

Minister for energy Eamon Ryan described the rise in solar power – particularly in the number of households generating their own electricity through solar panels – as a “rooftop revolution”.

“The rooftop revolution has seen solar panels becoming an increasing feature across every town and suburb of the country, providing clean indigenous electricity,” he said, noting that more than 82,000 homes have now installed solar panels.


He said the rapid deployment of small-scale generation had been mirrored “in the rapid growth in the connection of utility-scale solar farms”.

“Since I launched the first solar farm in Co Wicklow in May 2022, there has been a big acceleration in the deployment of solar farms, providing new income streams to farmers, supporting jobs and benefiting communities across the country. Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in Ireland’s journey to 8GW of solar connections by 2030 and shows that, even in ‘cloudy Ireland’, we can harness our home-grown green resources to power homes and businesses.”

Nicholas Tarrant, managing director of ESB Networks, said enabling the connection of 1,000MW of clean solar power to Ireland’s electricity network was “a significant collective achievement for ESB Networks, our solar industry partners and indeed the 82,000-strong cohort of microgeneration customers across Ireland”.

“It is reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels and ultimately delivering the electricity network for Ireland’s clean electric future,” he said.

Meeting our climate action targets requires a significant contribution from solar electricity, the Irish Solar Energy Association’s Conall Bolger said. “Connecting 1 gigawatt less than two years after Ireland’s first solar farm was energised demonstrates the genuine potential of solar. There is a strong pipeline of new solar farms currently under development, and we must continue to support this momentum to enable Ireland to achieve its goal of 8GW of solar by 2030.”

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist