For Oral Answer on : 31/03/2022
Question Number(s): 125 Question Reference(s): 16870/22
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the supports his Department has put in place to encourage the installation of solar panels on farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
While the overall national energy policy formation is the direct responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) my Department engages with that Department on energy related matters from an agricultural perspective, as well as with a wide range of industry and other stakeholder groupings.
The importance of renewable energy generation, particularly from microgeneration, in mitigating carbon emissions has been reflected in the inclusion of targets for this area in the recently released Climate Action Plan 2021 – Securing Our Future.
In December 2021, the Microgeneration Support Scheme (MSS) was launched, which supports the deployment of an expected 380 MW of new micro (50 kW) to support the deployment of rooftop and ground-mounted solar PV. Landowners and farmers in particular will benefit from the move to renewables as set out under Food Vision 2030 – which clearly recognises that the agriculture sector has a key role to play in helping Ireland meet its renewable energy targets.
To help further encourage on-farm renewable technology uptake and usage, grant aid is provided through TAMS to assist farmers in maximising their contribution to the production of renewable energy through the installation of Solar PV technology along with battery storage on Irish farms. The solar PV systems grant-aided under TAMS include Solar PV Panels and Solar PV Rechargeable Batteries and Solar Panels for water heating under the Pigs and Poultry scheme.
Applications under the TAMS schemes for the solar investments are being received on an ongoing basis. A total of 126 applications have received payment for solar investments to date. The grant aid under TAMS is available at the standard rate of 40%, with a higher grant rate of 60% available to qualified young farmers. It is proposed that support for renewable energy investments will continue under the new Capital Investment Scheme as part of the CAP Strategic Plan submitted to the EU Commission for approval last December.
All of these support encourage the installation of solar panels on farms. I think this is an area of real and genuine potential to help farmers generate an income while continuing to play a leadership role in meeting our climate ambitions.