IFA Environment Chair Paul O’Brien has welcomed confirmation from Minister McConalogue at the IFA AGM that 60% grant aid will be available to all farmers in 2022 for rooftop solar.
He said rooftop solar on farm buildings offers significant potential to mitigate farm emissions; help Ireland reach renewable energy targets; and improve the resilience of farm business against rising energy costs.
The confirmation of 60% grant aid under TAMS will make solar installations more viable on farms and overcome the high initial installation costs. However, he stressed that the funding must be additional to the current funding allocated under TAMS and should not be restricted by the €80,000 limit.
Independent research conducted on behalf of IFA clearly showed that a capital grant of to 60% was required to make rooftop solar viable for farmers regardless of sector, size or geography.
He said there are significant limitations under TAMS to support adoption of solar on farms. This includes the maximum size of PV panels eligible for grant aid at 11kW and the fact that electricity generated must be used on the farm. It is also not permitted to use or export the electricity generated for domestic, commercial or non-farming use.
“If Ireland is committed to meet the carbon reduction targets for electricity of 62% to 81% as set out in the Climate Action Plan, a new scheme must be introduced that supports farmers to install rooftop solar PV, which optimises the renewable energy that can be produced on farm buildings and allows farmers to use excess energy for domestic purposes or to sell to the grid,” said Mr. O’Brien.
He said a key element to increasing clean energy transition at farm level will be to ensure that any new scheme provides a 60% grant combined with a feed in tariff that delivers a realistic payback period.
Ireland’s adoption of renewable technologies at farm level is well below the European average. In 2018, Ireland ranked 23rd out of the EU-27 for renewable energy from agriculture, producing just 2.6% compared with the average of 12.1%.