At last, small renewable-energy generators will get paid for any surplus electricity spilled to the grid from their solar photovoltaics (PV) system.

Local Power Ltd. is delighted to have negotiated a market-leading price of 17.5c/kwh for renewable electricity exported to the grid.

However, the key is still to ensure that farmers who are installing solar PV use as much of the electricity generated as possible, as this ensures the best returns for the investment made.

With daytime electricity prices likely to be in the 20-30c/kwh range for the foreseeable future, paybacks on a solar PV system install will be between three and five years for most businesses.

There are now a number of options for getting paid for surplus electricity exported to the grid. Local Power advises farmers to proceed with caution when signing up to utility providers for their own energy requirements, and especially to avail of the new feed in-tariff payment for micro and mini-generation schemes.

Micro-generation Support Scheme

Under the micro generation scheme, farms, homes and businesses can get a capital grant and also get a kwh payment from their utility provider based on market prices of electricity.

The grid connection process for up to 9kwp solar PV single phase, and up to 15kwp solar PV three phases, is straightforward with no cost involved or expected delays – and should the transformer feeding the business not have the capacity, ESB networks will upgrade this infrastructure at no cost to the applicant.

For this grid application, an NC6 form needs to be submitted to ESB networks and Local Power Ltd. does the application as part of its service to clients.

Contact [email protected] or call: 01 8250263 / 087 0654103, for the best advice and assistance

Each utility provider will offer its own payment terms for energy exported to the grid and the important thing for farmers to guard against is getting tied into a bad contract.

It’s very easy for a utility provider to offer an attractive kwh payment for surplus electricity exported to the grid, only to offset any benefit and more with a high fixed-term price charged for bought-in electricity.

The key for farmers is to ensure that any contract signed into provides the most competitive rates for electricity purchased in the first instance and that the terms and conditions do not tie you into a kwh price that can be changed at will by the utility provider, or that ties a business into an extended contract period.

This is not the time to enter long-term electricity supply contracts in the opinion of Local Power managing director, Pat Smith

solar PV on a farm shed

As an example, if a business buys in 30,000kwhs at 20c/kwh daytime electricity it costs €6,000 a year and exports 3000kwhs of solar PV generation at 15c/kwh it gets a payment of €450/year. Net cost €5,550.

However, if the bought-in electricity was 3c/kwh less (17c/kwh) the cost would be €5,100 per year and even if a business received 5c/kwh less (10c/kwh) for the exported electricity the overall net cost to the business would be €4,800 or €750 less per year.

Contact [email protected] or call: 01 8250263 / 087 0654103, for the best technology solutions and advice.

Local power Ltd. is delighted to have negotiated a market beating 17.5c/kwh for energy exported to the grid with Arden Energy. This company operates a transparent market related pricing system for its customers which is probably the best approach at the minute rather than fixing into expensive long term electricity contract when there is so much volatility around. The price for the renewable electricity purchased  is fixed for one year with an annual review based on market conditions so the 17.5c/kwh will vary each year.  

Mini-generation Scheme

For farmers and businesses wishing to install a larger system the new Mini-generation Scheme is the way to go. This will allow businesses with single phase connections to secure a grid connection that will allow up to 20kwp of solar PV be installed.

Businesses with three-phase connections will be able to secure a grid connection for up to 75kwp of solar PV being installed. The application for the assessment process will cost circa €950 and the initial pilot quota of 150 applications has already been reached.

Hopefully, this pilot phase will be complete in the coming months and Local Power is encouraging anyone interested to initiate this process as soon as possible.

Contact [email protected] or call: 01 8250263 / 087 0654103, to help secure your grid connection.

Under the Mini-generation Scheme a premium payment of 13.5c/kwh fixed for 15 years will be available from a government scheme, but only if the project has not received a grant and complies with other terms and conditions.

Based on current market prices this price is uncompetitive, but it is fixed for 15 years which gives some certainty for bank financed projects.

This premium tariff payment scheme offers very little benefit for projects designed for optimising self-consumption and a farmer would be much better off trying to secure a grant and opting for a market related payment for surplus exported to the grid.

For anyone thinking of putting solar PV on the roof with the intention of exporting most of the energy generated, the supports are not sufficient to make paybacks attractive.

Grant and tax benefits

Solar PV offers farms, business and homes a real and sustainable hedge against high and volatile energy prices. Grants can be secured to assist with the capital outlay, VAT is fully refundable for non-VAT registered farms and 100% of the net outlay can be written off against tax in year one, which for sole traders at the high rate of tax can be as much as a 54% tax write off.

Technology and warranties matter

Solar PV is a well-established technology across the world and its deployment is doubling every year. This year alone, demand for solar PV – driven by the volatile energy markets – has increased by over 30% globally.

The technology works very well in Ireland with the generation output predictable and measurable. The technology is all electrical with no moving parts and very low maintenance.

Local Power Ltd. offers its clients three technology options. Critically, two of the options come with european manufacturer warranties that have a huge value in reality.

These warranties come with 30-year product and 30-year performance warranties, with very few exclusions, and cover parts, labour and transport should there be a problem.

Solarwatt, Local Power Ltd.’s partner, is a German company in business for 28 years and owned by the BMW family. It uniquely provides both PV panels and battery storage solutions.

Their newly launched AC BMW branded battery systems allows charging from solar PV or the grid and offers the highest efficiency and safety standards on the market.

Contact [email protected] or call: 01 8250263 / 085 757 1533, to see what solar PV can do for your business.