Grant Scheme Critical for the Development of Farm Scale Community Based Renewable Projects

IFA Renewable Energy Project Team Leader Tom Short, while welcoming the announcement by Minister Naughten of the pilot Domestic Solar PV Grant Scheme along with last week’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) as initial first steps, said that it is critical that properly funded schemes are put in place as a matter of urgency to support the development of farm scale community-based renewable energy projects that include commercial rooftop solar panels.

Mr Short said, “The successful development of renewable energy projects across much of Europe has been predicated on providing the proper financial supports as green energy generation is more expensive than that from fossil fuels. That dynamic is changing in relation to big wind and solar as technology costs continue to reduce. However, community resistance to large scale wind projects in Ireland will cap its development while reduced solar cell efficiencies due to our latitude will limit its scope for the production of renewable energy from solar panels. If Ireland is to meet its EU renewable targets and address security of supply issues it is important that the full range of renewable technologies available are deployed and adequately supported under grant aid schemes.”

“One of the main flaws with the switch away from feed in tariffs to an auction type system under the recently announced RESS scheme is that it favours larger scale projects, particularly wind, to the exclusion of small to medium farm scale community-based projects.”

“Farm scale community-based projects deliver significant value added to rural communities as they utilise local resources, including labour. This would result in a significant spin off into local communities, as has been the experience across many EU Member States. In addition, farm-based projects will help to decarbonise food production,” he said.

“The financial viability of medium sized farm scale community-based projects is very much predicated on certainty around income generation. Financial institutions and investors will not become involved in or back off these projects under an auction-based system as it fails to provide a guaranteed cashflow.”

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