For Oral Answer on : 14/07/2022
Question Number(s): 26 Question Reference(s): 38541/22
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 203 of 26 May 2022, the way in which his Department prioritises support for farmers to generate more renewable energy for their own use and potentially for sale to the national grid; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I am excited about developing the on-farm renewable sector as way of reducing emissions while also providing new incomes streams for farm families.
To encourage on-farm renewable technology uptake and usage, grant aid is provided through The Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes (TAMS).
This assists 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 Pig and Poultry Capital Investment Scheme.
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.
The energy produced here is limited to on-farm usage only. This is because the State aid requirements for this scheme are under Commission Regulation (EU) No 702/2014 and Article 14 (4) which state the following:
The investment may be linked to the production at farm-level of energy from renewable sources, provided that such production does not exceed the average annual consumption of fuels or energy of the given farm. Where the investment is made for the production of thermal energy and electricity from renewable sources on agricultural holdings, the production facilities shall serve only the beneficiary’s own energy needs and their production capacity shall be no more than the equivalent to the combined average annual energy consumption of thermal energy and electricity on the agricultural holding, including the farm household.
The current State aid Guidelines in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas have applied since 1st July 2014 and will expire on 31 December 2022. The European Commission proposed changes to the Guidelines in order to align the current rules with the new CAP and other current EU strategic priorities.
Subject to these changes, there may be scope for us to do more to support farmers. Allowing farmers to generate more renewable energy for their own use and potentially for sale to the grid is a priority of mine.
I am anxious that we would do this and help meet the two-fold purpose of providing more energy in this country from renewable sources while also helping to support farm incomes and allow farmers to be more energy secure.
It is also proposed that support for renewable energy investments will continue under the new Capital Investment Scheme as part of the CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) submitted to the EU Commission for approval last December. The position for Capital Investments under the CSP will remain for renewables to be consumed on the holding only.
I am working closely with Minister Eamonn Ryan on this given the suite of new measures which that his Department has introduced for renewable production this year. I will continue to engage in the revision of the State Aid Regulations as part of this and I will examine all ways to support farmers in this area.