IFA Environment Chairman Paul O’Brien said the barriers to farm based microgeneration must be removed from the proposed Microgeneration Support Scheme (MSS).
“The scheme as currently proposed won’t work. The scope needs to be widened,” he said.
IFA has made a detailed submission in response to the request for consultation on the proposed new scheme. “It’s a missed opportunity to support farmers and communities to transition to renewable energy, while decarbonising the rural economy and potentially providing an additional income stream for farmers,” he said.
Ireland’s adoption of renewable technologies at farm level is well below the European average. In 2018, Ireland ranked 23rd out the EU-27 countries for renewable energy from agriculture, producing just 2.6% compared with the EU-27 average of 12.1%.
“The rate of adoption of renewables on Irish farms clearly demonstrates a failure to develop policies that make farm-based renewables workable. Unfortunately, the MSS scheme is no different,” said Mr. O’Brien
He said that farmers want to be central players in Ireland’s energy transition. “They want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by microgeneration to diversify their farm income and enhance the overall sustainability of their farm business,” he said.
“If the scheme is to work for farm or community-based microgeneration, then the net payback period for on-farm installations needs to be reduced to 5–6 years, while the 70% self-consumption requirement is too restrictive, particularly for farmers with the capacity to produce renewable energy but that have a low energy consumption”.
IFA has written to the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan to seek a meeting to outline our concerns with the proposed scheme.