In 2009, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) initiated a pilot microgeneration programme. This involved 42 installations of various microgeneration technologies. A final monitoring report on the performance of the installations and learning from the programme is awaited from SEAI. This will inform future policy development.
Electric Ireland has been offering a 9c/kwh feed in tariff, on a commercial basis, to domestic microgenerators since February 2009. No other electricity supply company has to date chosen to enter the market and to offer a microgeneration feed-in-tariff on a commercial basis, although the Commission for Energy Regulation invited them to do so.
Previously, a joint ESB/Electric Ireland microgeneration support scheme for the domestic sector offering a total of 19c/kwh (comprising €10c/kwh from ESB Networks combined with the 9c/kwh from ESB Customer Supply (now Electric Ireland)) ran for 3 years (February 2009-February 2012) and had a take up of between 500 and 600 installations.
In terms of current supports, it is noteworthy that the REFIT scheme operated by my Department does not set lower limits. There are currently some very small hydro plants operating in the scheme, as well as some small landfill gas and anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.
In REFIT 3, covering the biomass sector, the tariff structure is weighted in favour of smaller scale developments, with a higher tariff being offered for AD plants of less than half a megawatt (500 kW) and biomass CHP plants that are less than1.5MW (1500kW).
REFIT 3 Tariffs
i. AD CHP (units less than or equal to 500 kWe) 15c per kWh
ii. AD CHP (units of greater than 500 kWe) 13c per kWh
iii. AD (non CHP) (less than or equal to 500 kWe) 11c per kWh
iv. AD (non CHP) (units of greater than 500 kWe) 10c per kWh
v. Biomass CHP (units less than or equal to 1500kWe) 14c per kWh
vi. Biomass CHP (units of greater than 1500kWe) 12c per kWh.
SEAI has been asked to provide my Department with analysis of other means through which the microgeneration sector could be supported, apart from through a feed-in-tariff funded from the Public Service Obligation. In view of falling technology costs, the Department has also asked SEAI to update analysis on the costs of varying levels of support for microgeneration technologies, with a view to considering how the sector could be supported going forward.