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Farmers should be paid to provide renewable energy to the national grid, Cork East Fine Gael TD, David Stanton, has said.

Deputy Stanton said, “The Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) benefits farmers with financial support for solar panels and other renewable technology on farms, including grant aid of up to 60% for young farmers.

“However, we must look at the possibility of altering the scheme to allow farmers feed excess energy into the national grid and be reimbursed for it. Not only would this increase the country’s supply of renewable energy, but farmers would also be able to tap into an extra income stream by receiving payment for energy they generate.

“According to Minister Charlie McConalogue, under current EU regulations, where a farmer is using CAP funding through TAMS, any energy generated has to be for their own use on the farm and not for generating electricity for payment. The scheme therefore remains limited as it benefits farmers who use the electricity generated and so is currently mainly used by those who have higher energy needs.

“Since its launch, 126 applications for solar investments have received payments under the scheme. By exploring further opportunities within the scheme, I think we can encourage a far higher number of applicants.

“In a recent response to a Parliamentary Question in the Dáil chamber, Minister McConalogue stated that Minister Eamon Ryan came forward with a proposal at the start of this year to ensure that feed-in electricity being generated on farms or elsewhere could be paid for. However, Minister McConalogue also stated that TAMS funding cannot be used for energy generation.

“Under the EU Renewable Energy Directive II, consumers have the right to receive remuneration for energy they generate. In light of this, will Minister McConalogue work to ensure that farmers are entitled to the same rights so they can be paid for their energy?

“Given the war in Ukraine, we are facing a volatile energy situation and we need as many incentives as possible to encourage further development in this area”.

While Minister McConalogue agreed that it makes sense to reward and incentivise farmers to feed into the grid and further develop the potential of their farms to contribute to energy supply, there remains a challenge with how this would be incorporated under the current terms of the TAMS.

“I know that the Government is dedicated to delivering the capacity to pay farmers to generate electricity, and I welcome Minister McConalogue’s commitment to take my proposals into consideration when considering how the farming sector can improve its power generation capacity.

“Expanding the TAMS would financially reward farmers and would also benefit wider society by increasing the production of renewable energy and helping to secure our energy supply – a win-win situation for all,” concluded Deputy Stanton.