Tuesday, 10 November 2020
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
211. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason new builds are not eligible for PV panel grants in view of the fact existing houses are; his plans to review the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34773/20]
The Department funds a number of grant schemes to support homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. These are administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Since 2000, over 440,000 homeowners have upgraded their homes with support from these schemes, representing nearly one home in four across the country. This has resulted in warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes that are easier to heat and light. The Solar PV grant scheme supports solar photovoltaic panels in homes built and occupied before 2011. In 2020, following a review of the scheme, SEAI introduced a post-works BER C requirement in order to ensure energy efficiency first principles are achieved, meaning applicants may now need to consider energy efficiency upgrades ahead of, or at the same time as, applying for a Solar PV grant. The rationale for this is that the grants which are available, and their respective eligibility criteria, were selected as they are deemed most likely to deliver significant energy savings to homeowners at the best value for money for the Exchequer. It is important to note that the grants available aim to maximise emission reductions and deliver energy savings for the widest range of homeowners possible.
As the Deputy may be aware, Part L of the Building Regulations details the minimum requirements for energy performance of new buildings to limit the use of fossil fuel energy and related CO2 emissions. There are options to meet this requirement for new build homes by including renewable technologies including heat pumps and/or solar PV. However, grants are not targeted at meeting compliance requirements of these Regulations.
A Micro-Generation working group, chaired by my Department, is examining an enabling framework for micro- generation which tackles existing barriers and establishes suitable supports within relevant market segments. The proposed support mechanism will be outlined in a public consultation in the coming months.