Communities, Farmers and SMEs to join the Solar Revolution

Communities, Farmers and SMEs to join the Solar Revolution

Press release, May 23rd

Waterford T.D., Marc Ó Cathasaigh has said that the new Small Scale Renewable Energy Support Scheme launched this week will enable communities, farmers and SMEs to join the solar revolution.

Ó Cathasaigh said “We know that schools, homes and business have already embraced the idea of generating electricity for their own homes or selling surplus electricity back to the grid. Now we’ll see communities being able to come together and invest in larger projects from between 50kW and 6MW and build a small solar or wind farm. This new scheme, called the Small Scale Renewable Energy Support Scheme, will make those community projects viable and will guarantee a minimum price for the power they sell for 15 years of between €80 – €150 per megawatt hour generated. This is great news for communities, SMEs and farmers and this is investment right into local economies.”

The second phase of the Small-Scale Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (SRESS), the export phase, will be a significant improvement in market supports for Renewable Energy Communities and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs),  It complements the microgeneration supports for small projects and competitive auctions for larger projects under the RESS (Renewable Electricity Support Scheme). SRESS tariffs have been set across six categories – three community rates and three SME rates, covering both solar and wind. The largest supported category, grid scale community solar projects, will receive a guaranteed tariff 20% higher than the average community price in the most recent RESS auction for community projects in 2022.

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, said:

“Communities play an important role in our transition to a greener future. Through my department’s continued engagement with Renewable Energy Communities, it became evident that they were facing significant challenges with the competitive, auction-based nature of RESS, along with grid and other barriers to project delivery.

“To alleviate these issues, SRESS has been designed with the aim to provide an easier route to market for community projects and will align more closely to the experience and capacity of the community energy sector. SRESS will also enable farmers, businesses and others to maximise their participation in the energy transition. SRESS will help to deliver on Ireland’s renewable energy targets. These include a target of 80% renewable electricity by 2030, including 8GW of solar PV and 500MW of community energy over the same period. SRESS will be a key building block to the delivery of solar generation in particular.”

SRESS can contribute to lower, long-term energy costs for both households and business against high energy costs, through lower wholesale electricity prices associated with renewable electricity generation relative to the equivalent fossil fuel generation.