Microgeneration consultation welcomed ‘with caution’ by opposition party

Sinn Féin has said it welcomes today’s (Thursday, January 14) news of the opening of a consultation on a new Microgeneration Support Scheme “with caution”.

Party spokesperson on climate justice Lynn Boylan has raised concerns of “unnecessary barriers blocking access to ordinary people”.

Individuals and communities are invited to submit views on the design of a Microgeneration Support Scheme, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan has announced today.

Also Read: Farmers to receive ‘fair price’ for selling excess electricity back to the grid under new scheme

“Microgeneration has the potential to spread the benefits of the transition throughout society. That outcome is not automatically guaranteed, and devil is in the detail,” Senator Boylan said.

“We [Sinn Féin] look forward to making a submission to the consultation which seeks to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past with wind energy – we need real engagement and to share the benefits of the renewables transition widely.

We want to see that there are no unnecessary barriers to accessing the scheme and where they do exist, that there are supports to overcome them.

“Done right, this scheme could ensure that ordinary people play an important role in the transition and that renewables benefit their lives in a tangible way.”

The scheme

This scheme will allow farmers, citizens, business owners and community organisations to generate their own electricity, such as from solar panels on their roofs, and receive “a fair price when they sell the excess into the grid”.

“By producing and selling their own electricity, citizens, farmers, business owners and community organisations can save on their energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint,” Minister Eamon Ryan said.

“I urge interested parties to get involved and have their say.”

Microgenerators will primarily serve their own consumption needs, but will be able to receive a payment for excess electricity exported back to the grid.

The scheme will “ensure that there is equity in what supports are offered and how the cost of support is distributed”.

Speaking about the launch, the Micro Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) said “it is critical that the new scheme is practical and that it makes economic sense for wide sectors of society to adopt microgeneration”.

For a new scheme to work effectively, there needs to be both grant support and a feed-in tariff for homes and businesses who use a lot of electricity.

“For farmers and SMEs [small to medium-sized enterprises] who have available roof space and grid access, there needs to be a renewable energy feed-in tariff that makes it economic to export to the grid and payback on the investments made should be five years or less.”