Government ‘must energise society to adopt micro-generation’

Political parties are being urged to put micro-generation front and centre in their policies by an organisation representing stakeholders in the micro-renewables sector.

The Micro-Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) launched its election manifesto – titled ‘Power to the People’ – today, Wednesday, January 22, which seeks the support of all political parties for a ‘five-point action plan’ targeted at “every home, business and farm to adopt micro-generation”.

Pat Smith, the national chairperson of the MREF, said that “all sectors of society are tired of waiting for our political leaders to match their stated ambition on climate action with real action that delivers sustainable incentives to help drive the transition to a low carbon future”.

Proper support for micro-generation is the obvious solution to encourage the switch to renewable power and empowering all sectors of society to make a real difference on climate change.

He argued: “There are tens of thousands of hectares of suitable rooftop space across the country for solar PV [panel] installation.”

According to Smith: “SMEs [small and medium enterprises] and farmers are at a loss to know why they are being ignored while businesses and farms across Europe have been supported in installing solar PV generation for years.”

The MREF chairperson also called for recent cuts to funding to be “reversed immediately by the next Government”, arguing that new “easily accessible” grant support, with less cost and bureaucracy, was needed.

The MREF’s five-point action plan calls for the following:

  • A 40% capital grant for all micro-generation projects undertaken by homes, businesses and farmers, with a commitment that these grants will be maintained until Ireland’s climate action targets are achieved;
  • The immediate introduction of planning exemptions for rooftop solar PV to allow homes, businesses and farms install solar PV without unnecessary and costly planning fees;
  • An immediate review of the excessive and costly bureaucracy and time delays that have built-up around renewable energy grant applications from Government;
  • Simplification of all grant application processes so that individual farmers and businesses can apply for grant support without having to engage in expensive professional structures;
  • Introduction of a feed-in tariff that makes it economic for schools, community centres, sports buildings, businesses and farmers to install solar PV, and the immediate engagement with ESB Networks to deliver priority grid access at no cost.

Smith concluded his comments by calling on voters to “make their views known” on what he said was the lack of supports to encourage people to switch to renewables.