Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Questions (190, 191)

Carol Nolan

Question:

190. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to increase the level of grant aid in budget 2019 for domestic solar energy systems; and his further plans to reduce the current average nine year wait time for a return on investment to a more attractive five year payback period. [41422/18]

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Carol Nolan

Question:

191. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce an incentive scheme in budget 2019 to subsidise the cost of connecting agriculture solar energy suppliers to the ESB Networks grid in order to incentivise producers to contribute non-storable surplus to the grid in the absence of export tariffs for the supply of solar energy for same. [41423/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190 and 191 together.  

In July 2018, I announced details of a new pilot scheme to support micro generation, initially targeting solar PV, homeowners, battery storage and self-consumption. The data gathered during the pilot scheme will inform potential future phases of support for micro-generation in Ireland that may be appropriate, as we align with the ambition and requirements of the recast Renewable Energy Directive (RED) that recognises the rights, entitlements and obligations of renewable self-consumers.

The payback period depends on several factors like the direction and accessibility of a dwelling's roof, the location in the country, and the amount currently paid by the occupier of the property for electricity. Using a typical system of 1.5kWp, each applicant would get a grant of €1,050 and save about €200 a year in electricity costs. On average this would give a payback of around 9 years.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has structured this grant support based on detailed analysis of costs and willingness to pay research, and the grant level (30-35% overall installation costs) is in line with other grants offered by the SEAI. It is in the interest of  each homeowner to increase self-consumption of the generated solar energy in the home, and by linking the additional grant scheme with battery storage, the scheme is tailored to encourage this.

The scheme will be subject to a six month review which will examine the uptake and the level of the grant, assess the costs associated with the technology and explore opportunities for broadening the scheme as appropriate. My Department is continuing to work closely with the micro-generation sector and the SEAI to better understand how to validate and further develop these policies in a fair and cost effective manner.

Micro generation, was also appraised as part of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) economic assessment. The analysis identified a number of challenges that may need to be addressed before a financial support scheme (payment) for micro generation can be developed. These include a reform of network charges, an assessment of the distributional impact of such a policy decision on the PSO (cost burden sharing), and development of a fair tariff for exported electricity taking the benefits of self-consumption into account. This approach is in line with experience from other EU member states who have attempted to introduce supports for micro generation.

The Deputy will appreciate that in developing and expanding  renewable energy support schemes  that a careful balance must be struck between the subsidy to  renewable generators and the additional costs to pay for these schemes that are transferred to  electricity bill payers. Proposals for all such schemes are and must be subject to careful economic appraisal.