Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Renewable Energy Incentives
903. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the incentives available to promote solar energy, and how he will encourage greater participation by companies and persons in the industry. [1479/16]
The newly published White Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland identifies the potential for solar technology. It is widely recognised that solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has become more cost competitive for electricity generation, not only compared with other renewables but also compared with conventional forms of generation. The deployment of solar in Ireland has the potential to contribute to our renewable energy targets and is one of the technologies being considered in the context of the new support scheme for renewable electricity generation which is expected to be available towards the end of 2016. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) provides supports for the use of solar thermal heating technology to both large industry and SMEs. Households can also avail of grant support for investment in renewable energy installations, including solar thermal, under the Better Energy Homes Scheme. In addition, the current tax-based support incentives include the Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme which allows individual investors to obtain income tax relief on investments in renewable energy in each tax year. An Accelerated Capital Allowance scheme also allows companies to offset the cost of investment in qualifying renewable energy generation technologies, against their tax liabilities in year 1 rather than over a more prolonged period, thus aiding their cash flow.
With regard to additional measures that may support more solar PV and solar thermal technology, my Department launched two public consultations in 2015 on the development of a new renewable heat incentive (RHI) support scheme and a renewable electricity support scheme (RESS). The initial phase of the consultation closed on 18 September 2015 and was designed to review the technology options that may be supported by any new incentive scheme. Solar energy (both photovoltaic and thermal) were identified as potential renewable generation technologies that will be assessed as part of the design process for the new schemes. There will be two additional public consultation phases in 2016 before any decision is taken on the final design of the new scheme.
The second phase of the consultations will explore the potential design options for the structure of the support schemes, while the final phase will seek feedback on the preferred design option and implementation. These consultation phases will give all interested parties another opportunity to participate in the development of the support schemes. All details will be advertised on the Department’s website in 2016.
It is expected that the new schemes will be announced towards the end of 2016 subject to Government approval and State aid clearance from the European Commission.