The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D. has today launched a new scheme to support domestic customers who install solar photovoltaic (solar PV) panels on their homes.
This pilot scheme will support the installation of solar PV panels for the generation and self-consumption of renewable electricity. The scheme will be grant aided and there will be additional grants available to those who install battery storage to capture the electricity they generate for use at a later date.
Announcing the grants for homeowners, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD said:
“Turning your home into a renewable power station is now one step closer. Micro generation is an incredibly exciting space that will allow citizens in local communities to generate their own electricity and contribute towards Ireland’s climate action targets. With this grant that I am announcing today, a typical 3 bed semi-detached house would spend about €1,800 on a solar panel system and would save approximately €220 per year on their electricity bills. The Government is committed to helping citizens reduce their energy use and making clean energy cheaper and affordable to use. The introduction of a grant for household solar PV and further increases to home energy grant amounts demonstrates this commitment.”
The Minister added:
“The pilot scheme will be subject to a 6 month review at which time the costs of installation will be assessed and further opportunities to broaden this scheme to other groups and other technologies will be explored.”
The scheme will be funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
The solar PV grant will help build a stronger supply chain in Ireland and raise both awareness and experience of micro generation with homeowners. As we move towards a smarter grid, and a market that rewards increased participation of individuals and businesses, programmes such as this will help us to define the best pathway to a lower carbon future. Alongside the solar PV grant, increases in grant levels within our homes programmes will help to increase activity in homeowners reducing their energy demand, which remains the most cost effective way of enjoying the benefits of a more sustainable home.
The new scheme delivers on ambitions set out in the 2015 Energy White Paper with increased focus on citizens and communities as active participants, and agents of change in how we generate, transmit, store, conserve, and use our energy.
The grant is available for homes built and occupied before 2011 and details of eligibility criteria and how to apply are set out here. A registered solar PV installer must be used.
Increased grants for insulating your home
Minister Denis Naughten is also making a further announcement on increased grant amounts.
“Insulating your home so that its more energy efficient is the first step to making a real contribution to a more sustainable world. In addition to the solar PV grant, I am pleased to announce that I am increasing the grant amounts for homeowners to install attic insulation, cavity wall insulation and/or internal wall insulation. These increases can save householders up to €600 per year on heating bills through better wall insulation. Grants for attic insulation and cavity wall insulation have increased from €300 to €400. Grants for internal wall insulation have increased from €1,200 to €1,600 for apartments and mid-terrace houses and from €1,800 to €2,200 for semi-detached and end-of-terrace detached houses.”
Homeowners can apply for the grants online. Once approved, homeowners have six months to get the works completed by a registered contractor and claim the grant.
- The new micro generation support scheme also aligns with the recently agreed recast Renewable Energy Directive which brings the ‘prosumer’ to the heart of new energy policy across the EU. Ireland strongly supports the ambitions behind the establishment of the rights and entitlements associated with both renewable self-consumers and renewable energy communities within the Directive.
- The design of the pilot scheme has been informed by the results of a Behavioural and Attitudes study into micro generation, undertaken by the SEAI in June 2018 and the development of the scheme has included significant stakeholder engagement.
- Key messages from the SEAI B&A report, include:
- The ‘intention to install’ level for Solar PV amongst domestic customers is similar to that which exists for current Solar Thermal grants
- There appears to be a lack of knowledge about Solar PV technology and systems amongst the public
- Those more likely to install, underestimated the cost and overestimated the savings
- There is no one clear motivator for those intending to install. Multiple reasons given including financial, environmental, independence, beliefs etc.
- There is a large preference for grant supports (>50%) over other forms of support.
- The target market for solar PV is homeowners aged 35-55 years.
- A micro generation ‘Code of Practice’ has been developed by the SEAI, focussing on safety, technical and training standards for both installers and equipment and this Code, coupled with the new pilot scheme, will help to establish a sustainable and enduring micro generation sector in Ireland.
Solar PV FAQs
What will solar PV do for my home?
Solar PV will generate renewable electricity, which you can use in your home. This will reduce the amount of electricity you currently purchase from your supplier. This reduction in cost from your electricity supplier is a saving, which over time can offset the installation cost of the PV system.
What will my solar PV system look like?
A domestic solar PV system consists of a number of solar panels mounted to your roof (or in your garden) and connected into the electrical system within your building. The solar panels generate DC (direct current – like a battery) electricity, which is then converted through an inverter to AC (alternating current – like the electricity in your domestic socket). Solar PV systems are rated in kilowatts (kW). A 1kW solar PV system would require 3 or 4 solar panels on your roof. The generated electricity feeds any electrical loads in your home, and any excess can be stored (in a battery, or other storage solution like your hot water immersion tank) or exported from your house into the electrical network on your street.
What is the right size solar PV system for my home?
The size of solar PV system will depend on a number of factors, and you should discuss this with potential installers. Your installer should consider the amount of electricity you use in your home, when you use it most during the day, and the size, and orientation, of your roof.
It is desirable to maximise the amount of solar electricity you use in your home, sometimes called ‘self-consumption’. You can do this by sizing the solar PV system to meet your demand, and by using energy storage solutions. Analysis of Irish homes found that typically 80% of the electricity generated by a 2kW (kilowatt) solar PV system in an average Irish home would be used within the home (self-consumed). With the addition of storage solutions, this could be increased further towards 100%.
Therefore, for solar PV without storage, a system of 2kW or lower is considered optimal for high self-consumption. For systems larger than 2kW, some form of storage should be considered to increase self-consumption.
How can I store excess electricity from a solar PV system?
The simplest way, if you have a well-insulated hot water cylinder (immersion), is to use a diverter to heat hot water with electricity that would otherwise export from your house. This is a very low cost solution, and is considered in the grant support. You should consider your hot water needs in your home, and if you will use the water heated this way.
An emerging solution is the use of a battery storage system. This system will detect when you are exporting energy to the grid, and then will store this energy within a battery within your home. The battery will then feed this stored energy back into your home when you need it next. Homeowners can also receive a grant towards the cost of installing a battery storage system under this scheme.
What is the right type of battery system for my home?
If you choose to install a battery to increase the amount of solar electricity you use in your home, there are a few considerations which you should discuss with your installer
1. Battery rating and capacity:
Battery storage systems are often provided with a power rating in kilowatts (kW). Storage batteries for a grid connected solar PV storage system are around 1kW to 7kW. This is the capability of the battery to charge (from the PV system) and discharge (to the house).
Battery storage system are also provided with a capacity rating in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A battery’s stated electricity capacity is generally larger than the battery’s actual useable capacity, because:
all batteries lose some energy in charging and discharging, though some have better ‘charge-discharge efficiency’ than others.
most batteries are not designed to be routinely fully discharged. Some have deeper discharge capability than others.
2. Battery lifetime:
A battery’s efficient lifetime depends on the technology and the way the battery is used - on the number of ‘cycles’ that they undergo. Manufacturers generally give an expected lifetime in years and/or in ‘charge-discharge cycles’. For example:
‘Life expectancy = 10 years or 10,000 cycles, whichever is the sooner’
3. DC and AC coupling:
There are two main ways of linking a battery storage system into such a system:
- DC Coupled: the batteries are installed on the same side of the solar inverter as the solar PV panels, they charge from the panels, and their DC energy is only converted to AC when it’s used.
- AC Coupled: the batteries are installed on the grid-side, where the solar PV’s DC has already been converted to AC. A separate inverter converts the AC back to DC for storing in the battery. When the battery discharges, the same separate inverter converts the DC back to AC. This type of battery may allow other functions besides storing solar PV excess electricity, such as storing cheaper night rate electricity to use during the day.
What if I installed solar PV in my home in January 2018, will I be eligible for the grant?
No. The solar PV grant is available for new solar PV installations from 31st July 2018.
How long will this pilot scheme run for?
This pilot scheme will run until 31st December 2020