The use of energy-saving and generation technologies will be pivotal for buildings as solar PV installations become an ever more attractive investment, MEP for Ireland south, Seán Kelly has said.

Renewable energy generation technologies are cost effective solutions with a high yield on return of investment, allowing us to utilise much-cleaner primary energy consumption, the MEP said.

Over the next years the European Solar Rooftops Initiative gradually introduces an obligation to install solar energy on buildings, starting with new public and commercial buildings, and residential buildings.

MEP Kelly has tabled amendments to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to include a new article addressing the rooftop initiative.

An online webinar titled ‘Leave No Roof Behind: Ireland’s solar energy potential’ hosted by the MEP today (Tuesday, October 11) at 12:30p.m will discuss Ireland’s potential for solar generation, and how deployment can be supported.

“In Ireland, one million homes have the roof space and orientation suitable for the installation of up to ten solar panels,” he said.

“This translates into 8% of Ireland’s renewable energy target, and could save households approximately €450 in electricity costs/year.”

Panelists in today’s webinar will include the CEO of the Irish Solar Energy Association, Conall Bolger; head of business supports and transport at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), Fergus Sharkey; and Teagasc’s energy and rural development specialist, Barry Caslin.

“Ireland may have more than its fair share of cloudy days, but the reality is that solar generation will play a big role in reducing emissions for countless households,” MEP Kelly added.

Solar PV planning exemptions

Meanwhile, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien has signed revised planning exemptions for the installation of rooftop solar panels into law.

Under the revised regulations, rooftop solar installations covering the entire roof of agricultural developments are exempt from requiring planning permission, according to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

However, a rooftop limit of 300m2 in 43 designated Solar Safeguarding Zones remains to lower the potential threat to aviation safety arising from panels within a 5km diameter zone around airports.

In the case of an agricultural holding within these zones, with two agricultural structures, the department explained that the following can be installed under the exemptions:

  • 300m2 of panels on the roof of each agricultural structure = 600m2 total;
  • 75m2 total on all walls;
  • 75m2 total free-standing panels;
  • Total overall = 750m2.

However, this is subject to the energy generated being used primarily for use (greater than 50%) within the curtilage of the agricultural holding, according to the department.

In terms of solar panel installations on houses there is no limit to the area of panels which can be installed on rooftops of homes anywhere in the country, as the 12m2/50% roof limit has been removed.