The government will begin to reduce supports for solar PV microgeneration in 2024, and will start to phase them out completely in 2028.

The Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), has outlined its plan to begin reducing the level of supports offered under the Micro-generation Support Scheme (MSS), based on reaching “deployment milestones and a value for money assessment”.

The move has been described as “indefensible” by the Micro-Renewable Energy Federation (MREF), which said these grant supports are “critical for farms and businesses in Ireland.

A spokesperson for the DECC told Agriland:

“Support levels under the MSS will gradually reduce over time from 2024, based on reaching specific deployment milestones and on a value for money assessment.

“It is expected that supports for new installations will begin to be phased out from 2028.”

MREF chairman Pat Smith has called for an immediate review of the plan. He stated that rooftop microgeneration is a “cost effective and speedy solution” to helping Ireland to decarbonise and deal with the impending energy crisis.

He also added:

“There is enough roof space in Ireland to build over 3,000MW of solar PV without using an acre of good agricultural land.”

Currently, under the MSS, both domestic and non-domestic applicants are eligible to receive a Clean Export Guarantee (CEG) tariff for any electricity generated through solar PV that they export.

Both property types can also receive a grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), to go towards the cost of installing the panels.

Non-domestic projects greater than 6kW but below 50kW are eligible to receive a Clean Export Premium (CEP) tariff per kW exported. This tariff will be fixed for a period of 15 years, and throughout 2022 and 2023, this rate will be 13c/kW.

However, a curtailing of these supports will be gradually introduced, as outlined in the table below.

Source: Department of Environment, Climate and Communications

Under this plan, the SEAI installation grant will be €1,500 less than this year’s rate in 2028, while the CEP tariff will be €0.04 lower than the current rate of 0.135/kW.

However, CEP applicants will continue to receive payments for the duration of their 15-year fixed period, regardless of their term continuing beyond 2028. The rate of these payments will match the rate that was set in the applicant’s sign-up year.

Renewable Energy Support Scheme

The DECC recently announced details of the second Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS 2), which will support large scale solar farms by almost 50%.

MREF chairman Pat Smith said:

“The massive increase in support levels under RESS 2 are in stark contrast to the regressive supports planned for microgenerators and display a complete disregard of the need to build support among communities.”

He added that the intention to phase out these supports “beggars belief”, and said it is causing many to question how Ireland’s climate action agenda is being managed and planned.

“Government is choosing to pay millions in annual supports to foreign utilities and investment funds for large-scale solar while allocating a pittance in comparison to the development of a vibrant, home grown, rooftop microgeneration sector,” Smith said.

“Government needs to refocus supports towards rooftop solar PV and other microgeneration, including exempting installations from planning, without any further delays,” he concluded.