Microgeneration scheme could support solar panels on 70,000 properties

State may be able to produce 1 GW of solar power from ‘customer-scale generation’ by 2030

‘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.’ Photograph: Getty Images

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".

Entry point

The measures can deliver a step-change in how Irish society responds to climate change; giving people an entry point to take meaningful action, he believed. “The potential is huge. Ireland could be generating 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar energy from this ‘customer-scale generation’ by the end of the decade.”

Mr Bolger welcomed supports for capital investment. “It is good news that the Government has heeded calls from industry and citizens as it is more likely to result in widespread use of microgeneration.”

The scheme addresses a long-standing policy gap, he said. “This framework could enable farmers, often cast as the pariahs of the climate conversation, to take practical and positive actions towards decarbonisation.”

Current bottlenecks being experienced trying to connect projects to the electricity network, however, must be addressed or these efforts may be redundant, he warned.

Solar technology "is there and ready to be deployed, with people eager to engage, yet one of the biggest risks is ESB Networks", he said. "They must be primed to connect every single customer-scale generator within a consistent and reasonable timeframe."

Mr Bolger commended the removal of building energy rating (BER) restrictions as a condition of accessing support. “By easing requirements on BER ratings the Government have removed a barrier to customer-scale solar. Making an expensive renovation a precondition for access would have limited this scheme’s effectiveness.”

He added that reforms to planning rules must also be expedited.

“Rooftop solar panels have become a common sight across the country. While robust planning rules are essential for all large solar projects, too many rooftop installations still require planning permission. This acts as an arbitrary barrier for these smaller schemes. Failure to amend planning regulations in a timely manner would maintain an unnecessary constraint on Ireland’s solar energy capacity.”


Micro Renewable Energy Federation chairman Pat Smith said there were shortcomings in the scheme which need to be addressed in advance of its introduction next year.

Reduction in maximum grants for domestic installations of solar PV from their current level of €3,000 to €900 in 2028 “cannot be justified when the costs of installations are increasingly going in the opposite direction due to price inflation in equipment and wage costs”, he said.

A €600 battery storage grant must be retained for home-owners who want to optimise their self-consumption of renewable power, Mr Smith added.

He welcomed an extension of supports to homes built pre-2021 as a major help to tens of thousands of homes that have been built since 2010, which were previously denied grant support.

“The extension of the grant support to non-domestic installations is also encouraging for systems of less than 6 KW. However, this generation level is too restrictive and is significantly less than what is needed by the sector to encourage SME businesses and farmers to invest and support the country in meeting its climate-reduction targets,” he said.


Small-scale electricity consumers will be able to get paid for excess electricity they generate from solar PV installed on their rooftops. This includes domestic households, farmers, small businesses, sports clubs and community groups.

The age of consumers participating in a renewable energy revolution is imminent – and it is a tangible way of contributing to the national effort to aggressively reduce carbon emissions.

The key steps are: Get an assessment of the suitability of your property; apply for a grant from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI); install solar PV on your rooftop; secure an export tariff; secure appropriate grid connection.

The microgeneration scheme should prompt every household, farm, business and community group to assess their suitability for solar.

Domestic applicants:

Home-owners will be eligible to receive a clean export guarantee (CEG) tariff for any exported electricity at a competitive market rate from their electricity supplier from September 2022.

Home-owners will continue to be able to apply to the SEAI for a grant towards the cost of installing equipment. In 2022, grants will be at the same level per kilowatt (KW) as the current SEAI solar PV grant scheme (maximum €2,400).

Non-domestic applicants:

Non-domestic applicants will also be eligible to receive the CEG tariff for any exported electricity at a competitive market rate from their electricity supplier.

Projects between 6 KW and 50KW will receive a clean export premium (CEP) tariff per kWh exported for a period of 15 years from their electricity supplier. The CEP will be €0.135/kilowatt-hour in 2022, which is higher than the current average wholesale electricity price.

Any difference between the CEP tariff and wholesale electricity prices will be supported by the Public Service Obligation levy. Exported volumes of electricity eligible for the CEP tariff will be capped at 80 per cent of generation capacity to incentivise self-consumption.

The CEP is due to commence in the third quarter of 2022, when a payment mechanism will be determined by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities.

Businesses, farms, community buildings such as schools, sports clubs etc, generating up to 5.9 KW will be eligible for a SEAI grant at the same levels as domestic customers. This specific grant will be available later in 2022.

Community participation:

Community enterprises including sports clubs and community halls will be eligible to participate either as individual micro-generators or as community projects which have a separate application process.

Points of contact:

– For information on the CEG/CEP contact your electricity supplier in the first instance.

– For information on grid connections contact ESB Networks

– For information on grants contact the SEAI

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times