Irish Solar Energy Association
10 Oct 2023
Climate measures do not go far enough
The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) has said that while Budget 2024 contains some welcome measures the commitments to address climate change lack urgency and fail to deliver meaningful action.
Responding to Budget 2024 ISEA CEO Conall Bolger said “The commitment to invest in climate change through a creation of the new €14bn Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund is to be welcomed. But the crisis we face is now, not in seven year’s time, and there is a lack of clarity on how these investments will address today’s challenges.
Bolger did welcome Ireland’s continuing to support the microgeneration of solar energy through rooftop solar panels. “This government has done a lot to support homes to invest in rooftop solar panels. We welcome that this is continuing through the introduction of a new low interest loan scheme and by doubling the tax disregard when a household sells excess solar electricity back on to the grid will increase the tangible benefits of homes investing in solar. In addition, the extension of the zero percent VAT rate for solar equipment purchased by schools is a sensible measure that will assist schools in communities across the country to avail of the solar opportunity.
“There is a growing demand from homes and businesses for solar panels. Meeting this demand will require an increase in the number of trained trades people to carry out these installations, the new Craft Apprenticeship system, with funding of €67m, will support the faster rollout of rooftop solar panels.
Bolger was severely critical of the failure to remove tax barriers that prevent farmers leasing land for solar developments. “Central to Ireland’s decarbonisation plan is the government’s own stated ambition to develop 8GW of solar energy by 2030. This will require approximately 25,000 acres of solar farms within this decade and making this a reality will require the cooperation of farmers across the country.
“All farming families are conscious of tax exemptions to allow land to be passed on to the next generation without punitive tax bills. Inexplicably, this does not apply in instances where more than 50% of land is utilised by solar panels. We had expected the government to remove this arbitrary rule that punishes farmers who engage in renewables and is significantly reducing the availability of land for solar.”
Bolger also criticised the government’s continued reliance on electricity credits as short sighted. “Consumers have been paying too much for electricity for too long and while electricity credits provide an immediate support, they do nothing to fix the problem. A significant percentage of the electricity costs paid in Ireland are within the State’s control and they are not being addressed. These costs need to be scrutinised and our budget should be doing more to encourage the deployment of renewables faster than is currently the case.”