• Eilish McCabe
  • 4 min read

Discover the benefits to activating your own Solar Meitheal project, in your Sustainable Energy Community (SEC)

What is Solar Meitheal?

The old Irish term ‘Meitheal’, signifies neighbours coming together to help in their community; to make light work over larger tasks. It was common during harvests, especially when it came to cutting the turf. In modern Ireland the spirit of ‘Meitheal’ is still thriving. 

A Solar Meitheal is a community-led concept. It involves informing and grouping homeowners in a local area who want to install Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels on their homes. This grouping makes it easier to

  • Source quotes from Solar PV suppliers and installers, through bulk purchases
  • Simplify planning multiple installations in one community

Sustainable Energy Community Programme

The Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) programme is supported by SEAI. The programme enables communities to work together to develop a sustainable energy system for the benefit of the community. Projects aim to​:

  • be as energy efficient as possible ​ 

  • use renewable energy where feasible 

  • consider smart energy solutions 

Why an SEC should consider a Solar Meitheal project

Starting your own Solar Meitheal community project can be a great first project for your local SEC to sink its teeth into.  

The SEC brings energy-driven action into your community by engaging with people you may not have before. A community project focus can galvanize the community and increase support for future projects.

SEAI has received feedback from different SECs on the benefits of the Solar Meitheal project;  

"Implementing the Solar Meitheal program represents a powerful climate action with tangible and quantifiable effects on carbon reduction. By actively engaging the community in this initiative, we foster a collective sense of pride as we enhance each home or business by transitioning to solar photovoltaic (PV) systems." Adam Calihman - Greystones & Delgany SEC

Benefits to Homeowners

  • As trusted community members, the SEC can help local homeowners in their community understand if solar PV is right for them.  
  • They can advise on the grants available and support with the grant application process.  
  • Save money on energy bills and see a faster return on their Solar PV investment. 
  • Working together as a collective makes the installation process easier and may offer cost savings (depending on negotiations with contractors).  
  • It also fosters a strong sense of community through shared goals and mutual support. 

Solar Meitheal in Practice

Many SECs have recommended using the approach described below: 

  1. Host a Community Solar PV Workshop - The first step is an informative workshop for the community hosted by the SEC. A Solar Meitheal Toolkit is available for SECs with presentation material and other useful resources. Homeowners decide if they are interested in joining the Solar Meitheal and give consent for the SEC to seek quotations on their behalf.  
  2. Invite Solar PV Companies to Provide Quotations - With details from committed homeowners, the SEC engages with 2-3 solar PV installers to provide a quotation. A list of registered Solar PV companies is available. Leverage your group's size to negotiate a better deal. 
  3. Review and Commit to a Quote - With options in hand, gather your community together to decide on the best quote. It’s a shared decision-making moment, ensure everyone is on the same page. Once confirmed, the individual homeowners agree contracts with the selected Solar PV company and apply for the Solar PV grant.  
  4. Installation of Solar PV Systems - Working closely with your chosen contractor will ease the process for all. Sharing experiences can help smooth the way for other community members. 
  5. Follow-Up and Prepare for Next Round of Meitheal - After the installations, reflect on the achievements made and plan the next steps. It is about keeping the momentum going. Invite more homeowners to join in the sustainable energy journey. It could be for another group looking to install Solar PV or even as another member of your SEC. 

Some of the SECs that have hosted a Solar Meitheal include: 

  • Glenmalure  
  • Louisburgh  
  • Erris 
  • Greystones & Delgany 
  • Claremorris 
  • Mulranny 
  • Aran Islands 
  • Forbairt Chonamara Láir 
  • Arklow 
  • Comharchumann Shailearna Teo 
  • Tourmakeady 
  • Santry 
  • Energy Communities Tipperary Cooperative 

There is more information about these SECs on our website SEC map

You can also connect with some of these communities on the Sustainable Energy Communities Facebook group  

Start your Solar Meitheal Journey

Are you ready to embark on your Solar Meitheal journey?  

Start the conversation with your SEC committee today.

Ask your SEC Mentor for further information and avail of the SEC Solar Meitheal Toolkit.