For Oral Answer on : 15/09/2022
Question Number(s): 29 Question Reference(s): 45145/22
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment his engagement with other Departments regarding the use of renewable energy sources for businesses given the rising energy costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I am acutely aware of the challenges many businesses are facing, and will face, from the rising cost of energy. We know that these costs are largely driven by a spike in the cost of natural gas, following from Russian’s illegal and deplorable invasion of Ukraine. Russia has since demonstrated that it is willing to use its role in global energy markets as a further weapon to disrupt the unity of the European Union and those that share our objectives.
The best way to counter this threat is to diversify our energy sources and reduce our energy use where possible. In Ireland we are well positioned to move to renewable energy sources, thereby mitigating the cost and increasing our security of supply. I and officials in my Department have been engaging across Government on efforts to facilitate businesses reduce their energy costs through the use of renewable energy. With electricity prices high, the cost saving available from using rooftop solar power or other renewables on-site has never been greater.
The Micro-generation Support Scheme (MSS) will provide capital grants for non-domestic applicants for solar PV installations up to 6.0kW primarily for self-consumption, with grant levels up to a maximum of €2,400 available. This will be administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and will become available in late September. Businesses that use a large amount of electricity will benefit most when they consume electricity on site from their own micro-generation. Residual electricity can be sold back to the grid under the Clean Export Guarantee (CEG) tariff. The financial business case for micro-generation for high electricity users is already strong, with short payback periods based on self-consumption and export payments alone. This year the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is consulting on an implementation plan for the Clean Export Premium (CEP) tariff, a guaranteed export tariff support for businesses where they invest in new installations greater than 6.0kW up to 50kW in size, which is fixed for 15 years.
The Climate Action Plan further commits to the development of a support scheme for ‘small-scale generators’ (SSG) above 50 kilowatts and below 1 megawatt to support the deployment of rooftop and ground-mounted solar PV that is expected to come into effect in 2023.
SEAI have a new Energy Contracting Support Scheme which provides financial assistance to help businesses and public sector organisations to deliver energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects through Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs). This can help businesses optimise their savings from the use of on-site renewables and efficiency measures.
The SEAI have also reviewed the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat, which can remove the gap between the installation and operating costs of renewable heating systems, such as heat-pumps, and the conventional fossil fuel alternatives.
Earlier this year, myself and Minister Ryan launched the Climate Planning Fund for Business, which will give businesses funding to come up with a personalised plan to identify how save energy and remove reliance on fossil fuels in their business. Alongside this the Enterprise Emissions Reduction Investment Fund provides capital funding for transformative decarbonisation investment in our manufacturing sectors, which will be amongst the businesses facing highest energy costs.