The Government has approved amendments to the existing Non-Domestic Microgeneration Scheme for Solar PV, operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), to extend supports to a wider range of businesses and non-domestic applicants. This will be done through tiered grant supports for solar PV – for installation sizes greater than 6 kWp up to 1,000 kWp (1 MW) capacity.
The new range of installation sizes will cover a significant variety of businesses, from small local shops up to large manufacturing facilities. It will also be available for public buildings, sports clubs and community organisations. An installation size of 1000 kWp equates to approximately 2,500 solar PV panels, which could be accommodated on a large factory or warehouse rooftop.
The joint proposal brought forward by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, will see funds provided by way of transfer from the allocation for the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS); to allow for an expansion of the existing non-domestic Solar PV supports. The amended scheme will operate on an introductory basis to the end of 2023 following which it will be assessed and subject to the normal budgetary process into 2024/2025. SEAI will implement the necessary changes and will open for applications under the amended scheme guidelines in mid July.
The Ministers and their officials have been working closely on potential policy interventions to help businesses decarbonise their energy use and reduce their costs. The updated scheme announced today will complement the objectives of the TBESS, in providing a solution to manage the impact of high energy prices. It will also provide a solution to mitigate this price volatility, whilst at the same time empowering those businesses to also be able to reduce their own emissions and support the local electricity grid.
The new scheme amendments allow for the expansion of grant supports for installation sizes up to 1,000 kWp capacity – significantly above the 6 kWp limit previously under the scheme. By making grants available to the maximum range of businesses as part of a pilot programme, this also facilitates the assessment of the full level of demand across industry for solar PV solutions. This will also provide valuable data, regarding a potential multi-annual support for SMEs.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan said, “this move by Government shows Ireland’s continued commitment to supporting all of our citizens, businesses and community organisations – to be part of our journey to a cleaner, cheaper and renewable energy future. It also shows strong cross-Government commitment to developing innovative solutions that can not only provide support to businesses to manage their energy costs but also empower those businesses to invest in an enduring solution which also reduces their carbon footprint and supports the local electricity grid.”
“We have removed planning permission requirements to install solar panels, and we’ve reduced the VAT to 0% for the supply and installation of solar panels on homes. As a result, our Domestic Solar PV Scheme operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland is continuing to power ahead with record levels of applications in 2022 and 2023, resulting in approximately 60,000 homes now being registered as microgenerators.””It is vital therefore that business are now afforded the same opportunity to start their energy transition journey. Not only is this important for individual businesses and community organisations, but with the additional challenges identified in Climate Action Plan 2023 supporting businesses to invest in solar PV will also facilitate those businesses to be able to participate in schemes that give people more control over when and how they use electricity.”
The enhanced pilot scheme supports are estimated to cost up to €15 million in 2023.
Speaking after the Government meeting, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney stated, “I want businesses to see the opportunities renewable energy can provide in reducing costs, reducing carbon and increasing sustainability. Businesses using renewables are more resilient to price volatility, and well-placed as we decarbonise our economy. This measure underlines the Government’s commitment to help businesses save money on their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint as they contribute positively to our national climate change targets.”