Solar and wind power microgenerators to reap greater rewards for feeding grid

A new regime of fixed tariffs, announced on Wednesday, will make it more worthwhile for individuals, companies and community projects to sell on excess power

Financial rewards for communities, small businesses, farmers and individuals who adopt solar and wind power are being scaled up, making feeding surplus power into the grid more attractive, following an overhaul of tariffs announced on Wednesday by Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan.

The new range of fixed feed-in tariffs to small-scale and community projects who produce between 50kW – 6MW of renewable electricity – from solar and wind – forms part of an expansion of the small-scale renewable electricity support scheme (SRESS).

It “aims to provide an easier route to market to community projects, farmers and SMEs, and maximise their participation in the energy transition”, Mr Ryan told the Energy Ireland conference in Croke Park on Wednesday.

The terms of the SRESS will be announced later this year.


Although 100 houses a day were adding solar panels and every school was switching to solar, more must be done, said Mr Ryan. “This is why this microgeneration scheme, approved by the Cabinet, is so important,” he said.

The most important factor in determining the success of Ireland’s switch to renewable energy was public support, he said - including “enthusiasm, understanding and acceptance of the scale of change we need to make”.

Mr Ryan said difficulties within An Bord Pleanála in processing onshore wind and solar projects had been addressed but the Government must pass the Planning and Development Bill this summer “to have greater certainty and greater speed in our planning and legal systems”. This would ensure projects “are not stuck in our expensive litigious process”..

Commissioner Aoife MacEvilly of the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities said energy prices would not go back to 2021 levels because of the price of gas. With the public service obligation (PSO) levy being reapplied to electricity customers later this year, there would need to be interventions to help those in energy poverty.

EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said Europe had negotiated two winters since the start of the Ukraine war with no energy shortages or supply cuts, while weaning itself off Russian gas. Wind power in Europe had exceeded gas-fired electricity last year, while it had become faster and simpler to get permission for renewable power projects.

In coming weeks, she said, the EC will announce the harmonisation of renewable auctions whereby EU states offer contracts to developers, giving certainty and further price stability.

Speaking before a parliamentary workshop in Leinster House on promoting roll-out of renewable energy organised by the European Forum for Renewable Energy, Dublin MEP Ciarán Cuffe underscored the importance of upcoming elections in securing backing for implementing the European Green Deal.

“Before the 2019 elections, the thought of having an initiative like the Green Deal seemed far-fetched. Nearly five years later, we have made it law. However, making climate law is one thing; implementing it is another. We have set ambitious goals at the EU level, and reaching those goals here calls on not just the Government, but on industry, NGOs and the people of Ireland to play their part,” he said.

“I am mindful, however, that the rise of the far right in Europe threatens to unravel the serious progress we have made ... Ireland needs strong and experienced MEPs with influence who will defend the European Green Deal against those who wish to deny the benefits of climate action to the people of Europe – like cheaper, green energy, cleaner air and water, and warmer homes.”

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

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