Image Government approves new micro-generation scheme for households
Image Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

The Government has finally approved a new micro-generation scheme, which will see households paid money for selling on any excess renewable electricity they generate.

Tens of thousands of households and businesses around the country which have solar panels installed will soon be able to sell any excess electricity that they generate back into the grid under a new Micro-generation Support Scheme that has been approved by the The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan. 

The Micro-generation Support Scheme is part of Ireland's Climate Action Plan and was one of the commitments that was made by the previous government in 2019. 

The main aim of the scheme is to get more homes, businesses, farms and community groups around the country generating their own renewable electricity through things like solar panels and small wind turbines. However a secondary aim is to allow these premises to sell any excess electricity that they generate and receive a fair price for it.

Eamon Ryan announced a consultation process for the scheme back in January 2021, with a decision on how to proceed expected the following July. Unfortunately, Covid delayed things. However the Minister has finally announced that the Government has given approval for the scheme to go ahead.

A similar micro-generation scheme was in operation several years ago but was cancelled in 2015 by the FG and Labour government at the time.

However with more and more homes and businesses looking to go green, and climate change an ever pressing challenge, the call for households and local communities to be able to generate and sell their own renewable electricity has gathered pace. 

Objectives 

Under the Government's Climate Action Plan, the aim is for 2.5GW of the country's energy needs to come from solar by 2030.

The Micro-generation Support Scheme (MSS) is aiming to deliver 380MW of this. Depending on panel size, this equates to over 1 million solar panels on approximately 70,000 buildings.

The enabling framework for micro-generators will support homes and businesses to participate as active energy citizens, reduce their energy costs and contribute to carbon reduction targets. This is part of an overall Government strategy to support deployment of renewable generation out to 2030.

Minister Eamonn Ryan. 

How does it work?

Currently buildings that have solar panels installed use the energy that they generate to heat and power their own homes.

Solar thermal (ST) collectors heat water exclusively whereas solar photovoltaic (PV) modules are used to generate free direct current (DC) electricity for multipurpose use. 

Those with solar PV panels can sometimes generate electricity that is surplus to their requirements. 

Under the scheme, these premises would then be able to sell this energy back into the national grid for use by other homes and businesses.

Who can apply?

Residential homes, businesses, farms, community buildings such as schools and sports clubs etc, can all apply for the scheme.

Both premises which already have solar panels and premises which get them newly installed can apply.

If you want to apply for the scheme you should contact your energy supplier first and foremost. But only from around April onwards when more information will be available and the exact mechanics have been ironed out. 

How much will I be paid?

This is the question on everyone's lips!

It's promised that people will receive 'a competitive market rate' from their electricity supplier. But suppliers have yet to announce what that will be.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has indicated that ESB Networks will have a system in place to let suppliers know how much renewable energy households are exporting by the end of June 2022 and suppliers will start making payments (credits) to households “at a reasonable time thereafter”.

But if you export the maximum amount possible you're probably looking at a payment of between €400 and €500 a year, which will likely be paid as a credit against your bill. 

If you have a Smart Meter installed you'll be paid precisely for what what you export. Otherwise, you'll be paid an estimate that will be determined by (CRU).

Does my home need to have a minimum BER to qualify?

No. Your home does not have to meet any Building Energy Rating (BER), either before or after the installation of any panels, to qualify.

Will I have to pay tax on my payments? 

In short, yes. However the first €200 that you earn can be entirely tax-free, as was announced in the 2021 Budget.

Is there a grant for solar panels? 

Currently the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a range of grant options for people looking to make their homes more energy efficient. 

One of these is a grant for the installation of solar PV panels on the roof of your home or in your garden to generate your own renewable energy for running your home.  

The SEAI estimates that, on average, a solar PV system can save a household between €200-€300 a year on their electricity bill. And this is on top of any money you might earn from selling your excess electricity back into the grid. And of course you'll be doing your bit for the environment too by reducing your carbon footprint. A real win-win.

More info on this grant as well as all the others is available here.

Heat your home for less

Over the next 10 years, we’ll see an increase in renewable energy production in order to meet our 2030 target of generating 70% of electricity from renewables.

If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint in the meantime, why not consider retrofitting?

Retrofitting can improve your home’s energy efficiency. It not only helps you to reduce your impact on the environment, but it also means you can save big on your energy bills. 

Take a look at the finance options available here or listen to our podcast on everything you need to know about retrofitting your home

For a more short-term solution, we’ve compiled a list of 10 ways to heat your home for less, so that you can start saving on bills today.

Remember that you can always switch energy supplier and save money. At bonkers.ie our easy-to-use comparison tool allows you to compare deals from a range of 14 energy suppliers

Get in touch

Do you have solar panels installed? If not, would a micro-generation scheme like this encourage you to install them?

Get in touch and let us know your thoughts! 

If you have any questions on microgeneration, we’d be happy to help. You can contact us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.