The government needs to act now to “empower the farming and business sectors” to help tackle the challenges associated with rising energy costs and overall energy scarcity.

The Micro-Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) pointed to rooftops as a potentially significant solution to a potential “energy crisis” that may be on the cards.

Commenting on impending energy price increases, MREF chairman Pat Smith said: “Escalating gas prices feed into every facet of peoples’ lives.

“Not alone will home and business energy costs rise but the knock-on effects are going to drive business costs which will inevitably lead to rising costs for households on almost all home purchases – from food to transport.”

Smith said that there is enough roof space on the farms and businesses of Ireland to install up to 3,000MW of solar PV – without using an acre of valuable agricultural land.

At today’s energy prices this would generate the equivalent of €500 million per year of renewable energy to power farms and businesses, he said.

In addition it would displace imported gas, “creating thousands of sustainable jobs across the country in the installation of solarPV and micro-generation systems”.

The chairman said that there was no reason why every suitable roof in Ireland was not covered with solar PV panels within 10 years.

He again called on the government to introduce the necessary measures to support the development of micro-generation of renewable power without further delays.

Turning to agricultural inputs, Smith said that a crisis in gas prices and supplies would place intense pressure on the price and availability of many farm inputs, from fertiliser to plastics, going into 2022.

He said that it was inexcusable that no progress has being made in creating a sustainable anaerobic digestion and bio-fertiliser industry in Ireland, which could significantly reduce our dependence on imported gas and fertilisers.

Concluding, the MREF chairman said that the impending energy crisis should not be wasted.

He again called on the government to put the policies and support framework in place to assist in developing a sustainable biomethane and biofertiliser industry in Ireland.