Grants up of to €162,500 are to be offered to businesses and organisations to install rooftop solar panels.
The move will be brought to Cabinet by Environment and Enterprise Ministers Eamon Ryan and Simon Coveney for approval tomorrow. The grants will help with the cost of installing rooftop arrays that can produce 7kWp or more of electricity. Current grants apply only to installations of up to 6kWp which is roughly the output of about 16 panels and is suited mainly to the roofs of houses, farm sheds and small offices and services buildings. The extended grants will provide help to fit solar on a much wider range of commercial, institutional and public sector buildings. Under the ‘Solar for Business’ arrangements to be finalised tomorrow, a tiered system of grants will be introduced beginning at €2,700. It is understood the scheme will be open for applications within weeks through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. It is intended the grants will be available at least until the end of 2025 and the ministers are optimistic about the uptake. The existing scheme for domestic solar has proved popular with almost 60,000 homeowners availing of grants and feeding excess power into the national grid for payment. A new payments scheme that would provide a payment for surplus power from these larger rooftop arrays at a set rate guaranteed for 15 years is expected to be finalised by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities later this year. The new grants come as the Government looks to build up as much solar power as possible as quickly as possible as renewable energy and climate action targets loom. Plans to roll out solar for schools, announced last year, are due to be accelerated shortly and a push is on to ensure all new and refurbished public buildings have rooftop solar. Cabinet will also hear of proposals to fast-track small to medium-sized solar farms on sites from roughly two to 24 acres, with outputs of 0.5-6MW of power. Several large-scale solar farms are already in operation around the country and many more are planned, some which will cover hundreds of acres and will provide the bulk of solar power generated in Ireland. However, the plan is to encourage solar in all sizes and from all sources in an effort to decarbonise the electricity system. Currently solar provides just under 600MW of electricity but the aim is increase that to 5000MW (5GW) by 2025 and to 8GW by 2030.