Irish Solar Energy Association
13 Mar 2023
ISEA welcomes publication of Oireachtas report
The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) has welcomed the publication by the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the relationship between Solar Energy and Agriculture. ISEA say the report contains a series of common-sense proposals that can make it easier for farmers to diversify into renewable energy.
Commenting following the publication of ‘Solar Energy and the Agriculture Industry’, ISEA CEO Conall Bolger said “The farming community is too often cast as a villain in the climate crisis conversation. Solar provides real opportunities for our farmers to play a positive part in Ireland’s climate action, generating new incomes while doing so. This report outlines several ways in which national policy could be changed to make this easier.”
“With Ireland now committed to generating significant levels of solar electricity there will be many opportunities for farmers to lease land to solar developers,” Bolger explained. “This will provide an additional revenue stream and crucially the land remains suitable for grazing. In total, we estimate solar could utilise approximately 25,000 acres over the next few years. While this is a sizable area it is less than 0.2% of Ireland’s agricultural land, and less than half of the land currently occupied by golf courses.”
Bolger welcomed the Committee’s recommendation regarding restrictions created by Capital Acquisitions Tax. “Currently any farming family that leases more than half its land for solar loses the CAT relief that allows for the inheritance of a family farm without significant tax bills. This is too big a risk for many farmers to consider and reduces the availability of land for solar. The Committee has quite rightly recommended a review of this as an unnecessary barrier and we hope this will result in the Department of Finance eliminating this punitive measure without delay.”
“Embracing rooftop solar technology on farmhouses and other buildings is another great way for farmers to engage in the clean energy revolution,” according to Bolger. “This can reduce their energy costs and emissions, particularly where they use electric vehicles. It also presents an opportunity to sell back to the national grid, boosting the entire country’s solar generation.
“The proposal to develop a scheme to assist farmers with the upfront costs of investing in solar would be welcome and help more farmers to engage more quickly. Similarly, the concept of targeting rooftop solar panels on every Irish farm building by 2030 is the kind of big thinking that is required to solve our climate crisis.”
Concluding Conall Bolger CEO of ISEA commended the members of the Committee for their diligence in engaging in the topic and called on Government to implement these proposals in full. “What climate action needs is solutions and innovation. This report by the Committee provides a blueprint to engage more farmers in generating clean green solar energy across the country. This can only have a positive impact on our environment and on our agriculture industry.”