Thursday, 7 April 2022
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Renewable Energy Generation
137. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason that homeowners with solar PV panels are still not receiving any payment or credits for excess electricity exported to the grid; if he has discussed with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government ; the reason for the delay in amending planning regulations to allow schools and community halls to install solar panels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18800/22]
On the 15 February, this year I signed the Regulations that transpose Articles 21 and 22 of the recast Renewable Energy Directive which brings these Articles into force. These Regulations mean the Clean Export Guarantee (CEG) tariff is now available for new and existing micro-and small-scale generators so that they can receive payment from their electricity supplier for all excess renewable electricity they export to the grid, reflective of the market value.The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) published a decision on an interim enabling framework for the CEG on 1 December 2021 which outlines the arrangements for the implementation of the CEG, including eligibility criteria and remuneration methodology. The CRU has decided that suppliers will set their individual CEG tariffs on a competitive market basis. A number of suppliers are now advertising their CEG rates, and the CRU advise consumers to check with their supplier in the first instance.
The CRU is not setting a date or deadline for the timing of the first payment. Those micro-and small-scale generators who have met the eligibility criteria are now accruing the CEG tariff value for all of their exported electricity and can expect an initial payment or credit from their supplier within a reasonable time after June 2022. The CRU has asked suppliers to communicate their decision on when initial CEG payments will be made at the earliest opportunity.
I understand that the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage (DHLGH) are currently undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the revisions to the Planning Regulations to support greater installation of Solar Panels and will start a public consultation in the coming weeks with a view to finalisation later this year.
138. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the details of the RESS 1 projects which have reached commercial operation to-date; the number of projects which are community-led projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18821/22]
The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is one of the flagship Government policies to help deliver on the ambition in the Climate Action Plan 2021 of up to 80% renewable electricity by 2030. The RESS supports communities in a variety of ways including through a separate category for community projects and a mandatory community benefit fund for every project supported in the scheme. To date, two projects have reached commercial operation as part of the first RESS competition (RESS 1). These projects are both windfarms and amount to almost 19 MW of new renewable electricity generation. I am expecting further RESS 1 projects to reach commercial operation in the coming weeks including the first solar farms in Ireland.
All RESS 1 projects are required to reach commercial operation by the end of 2023 at the very latest and are incentivised under the scheme to deliver early. EirGrid and ESB Networks project that the volume of new renewable generators connecting to the grid this year will far surpass previous annual connection rates and it is critical that this pace of delivery continues.
Under RESS 1, seven community projects, comprising five solar and two wind projects, are progressing through a number of milestones for delivery under the RESS scheme. These projects are anticipated to reach commercial operation before the end of 2023. The auction category for community projects has been retained in RESS 2. This category has been developed specifically to allow communities and citizens to participate in and benefit from RESS, empowering communities to generate their own electricity will help us to spread the message of the green transition.
The projects under development with support from the RESS, both developer and community led, will contribute significantly towards the renewable energy targets and trajectories set out in the National Energy and Climate Plan and to the renewable electricity ambitions set out in the Climate Action Plan. Further rounds of regular RESS auctions are critical to accelerating the pace and delivery of renewable energy sources and the urgent need for diversification away from fossil fuels.