I will go through the reply and I will then come back to the Deputy on some of the issues. On foot of the October 2017 stakeholder workshop, hosted on my instruction by my Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, along with further engagement with the microgeneration industry, I have asked the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to conduct a short study to assess the likely demand for and impact of microgeneration among the public. It is important that before we deploy further public money, we validate the demand and projected cost in an Irish context.
The proposed pilot scheme, which I announced at the recent renewable energy summit, will commence this summer and will target solar PV and self-consumption among domestic customers. The data gathered during this scheme and throughout the behaviour and attitudes study will inform future phases of support for microgeneration in Ireland as we align with the ambition of the recast renewable energy directive, which recognises the rights, entitlements and obligations of renewable self-consumers.
My Department is developing a new renewable electricity support scheme, RESS, which is being designed to assist Ireland in meeting its renewable energy contribution to EU-wide targets out to 2030. Microgeneration, which typically involves an element of self-consumption, was appraised as part of the RESS economic assessment and the analysis identified a number of challenges that may need to be addressed before a support scheme for microgeneration can be developed.
The reality is that bringing microgeneration into a system designed for large generators is complicated. It impacts how we pay for the network, manage regulation and technically manage the system. My Department continues to work closely with the microgeneration sector and the SEAI to better understand how to validate and further develop these policies in a fair and cost-effective manner. This pilot scheme will be the first phase in a multi-phase implementation of the new directive and it delivers on the ambitions and commitments made in the energy White Paper and the programme for Government.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
As set out in the national mitigation plan, a very significant increase in effort is required to realise the potential of the residential sector to contribute to the low-carbon transition. Improving the energy efficiency of a home in order that it needs less energy to maintain levels of comfort is a prerequisite for moving off fossil fuels for heating to less energy-intensive renewable energy options. This is why I have been providing additional funding to include deeper energy efficiency measures, combined with renewable technologies, in the range of supports for residential energy efficiency operated by SEAI. Solar photovoltaics, PV, is already supported under the better energy communities scheme and the deep retrofit pilot. Crucial to these schemes are the advice and technical support available to groups of householders and businesses to undertake these measures and embrace renewable technologies.