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Wide-Ranging Updates to SEAI Renewable Heat and EXEED Schemes Announced

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have expanded grants and tariff supports to help more businesses to invest in energy efficiency and renewable heat, as part of changes to SEAI’s business supports. These enhanced supports were launched in the Iveagh Garden Hotel, which has invested in a renewable heating solution in recent years helping to make it one of the lowest carbon-footprint hotels in Europe. The energy use of the hotel building has decreased by a massive 78% and its carbon footprint has reduced by 82%. 

Businesses and public bodies can avail of up to €3 million of grant support and up to €3.5 million of tariff support for a range of high-impact measures to urgently reduce fossil fuel use in commercial buildings and industry.  

SEAI will immediately implement a broad suite of changes in the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) to increase support levels, target larger energy users, and ensure that appropriate support is available for deployment in buildings and industry. The following scheme changes are being implemented, some of which are subject to final State aid approval: 

  • Increasing the support for heat pump installations to a maximum of 40% of costs, from the current level of 30%. 
  • Maintaining the maximum support for biomass applications at €3.5 million over 15 years. 
  • Expanding the scheme to the Emission Trading Scheme sector, comprising of large industry and large fossil fuel users, subject to State aid approval. 
  • Including support for heat pumps utilising waste heat sources, high temperature applications, and opening support to the wider application of heat pumps in buildings and district heating schemes. 
  • Support for additional upgrade measures in buildings to facilitate the installation of heat pumps. 

The Excellence in Energy Efficient Design (EXEED) scheme will immediately increase maximum grant funding available and change evaluation thresholds to ensure appropriate targeting of grant funding. The following scheme changes are being implemented: 

  • Increasing support for high-impact energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to a maximum of €3 million, from the current level of €1 million.
  • Introducing simplified evaluation and improved grant economic thresholds, and increased benefit for projects involving the electrification of heat/decarbonisation. 
  • An improved and enhanced application process, and speedier approvals. 

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat has to-date provided 15-year biomass support tariffs to 90 installations, with 30 installations commissioned and already receiving regular payments. This equates to a total committed support of €35 million over 15 years and 90GWh of renewable heat annually. In addition, the SSRH has provided grant support of more than €500,000 to heat pump projects. Projects already supported include agriculture, industry, hotels, nursing homes, leisure centres, and buildings in both the private and public sectors. Detailed case studies of some existing projects can be accessed here

The Excellence in Energy Efficient Design scheme has to date provided support to over 200 companies — equating to a total committed support of €15.6 million. The EXEED projects to date either completed or currently being implemented represent 190GWh in primary energy savings, 34.7 ktCO2 savings and €8.5 million in annual cost savings. The programme has engaged with a variety of sectors including pharmaceuticals, food and drink, retail, hospitality, agriculture, mining/quarrying and manufacturing. Detailed case studies of some existing projects can be accessed here

The Iveagh Garden Hotel was designed and upgraded as one of the lowest carbon-footprint hotels in Europe. Utilising the SEAI EXEED process, the energy performance of the hotel was interlinked with consumption in order to take renewable energy and low carbon design to a whole new level. Ground water beneath the hotel was utilised to capture renewable heat, along with significant advanced heat recovery from the kitchen and other sustainable technologies. Through the SEAI EXEED process, the energy use of the building has decreased by 78%, its carbon footprint has reduced by 82%, and the Building Energy Rating has gone from an E1 to an A3.  

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communication, Eamon Ryan TD, said, “in line with the targets and ambitions of Climate Action Plan 2023, we will offer enhanced and targeted supports for businesses who wish to rapidly decarbonise their buildings and processes. These changes ensure that higher levels of support are available for the deployment of heat pumps, biomass, biomethane, and energy efficiency projects to a wider range of businesses. The changes I am announcing today to the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat and the EXEED Scheme will better align them with market needs, and will make larger and more impactful investments by businesses of all types possible. Businesses can show leadership, and insulate themselves from energy price increases by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy measures at their premises.” 

William Walsh, CEO of SEAI, said, “our business community, like all sectors of society, has suffered from recent energy price increases. In the long term, businesses who adopt strong sustainability practices can protect themselves from volatile fossil fuel prices while improving their competitiveness and brand. SEAI has supported thousands of businesses on their sustainability journey to date, providing support of over €50 million to 2,500 businesses in 2022 alone. Aligned with our ongoing commitment to enhance and grow our supports and in response to our stakeholder needs, the changes announced today allow us to provide support where it is needed and is most impactful. I strongly urge all business to begin their sustainability journey, for the good of their business, Ireland, and the planet.”

Source: SEAI

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