Hitachi Energy: Advancing a sustainable energy future for all9th October 2023
Maritime Area Regulatory Authority established9th October 2023
Solar’s recent growth in Ireland has been revolutionary. From 0 per cent in 2022, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) statistics showed a day in May 2023 where solar provided 10 per cent of the country’s electricity.
ESB Networks recently stated that solar is “the fastest growing renewable power source in Ireland.” This exciting progress was unlocked by two changes: removal of barriers to rooftop solar; and a route to market emerging for utility scale ground mount solar.
Consumers are placing solar on their homes and businesses at an unprecedented rate. Domestic users are installing an average of 500 systems a week. Commercial players are installing not only kilowatt scale but megawatt scale.
Complementing this rooftop growth has been the long-awaited flourishing of the substantial utility scale pipeline developed by the solar industry. A key enabler has been the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auctions.
The growing confidence in solar’s potential was reflected by Government increasing the country’s solar PV target from 1.5-2.5GW by 2030, to 5GW by 2025 and 8GW by 2030. Solar is not a fringe technology but a significant part of Ireland’s decarbonisation toolkit, alongside storage and wind.
The question is not whether solar will scale, but how large an industry can be built in Ireland. To facilitate that growth, fundamental decisions need to be taken by the State.
We must build the network to support a zero-carbon system, quickly. Building that grid will deliver the green electrons needed to shape and power the future clean economy of Ireland.
Planning remains a challenge. The system requires resourcing. For example, the national planning authority An Bord Pleanála is struggling to decide on solar planning appeals within the mandated 18 weeks, currently averaging close to 36 weeks, with some cases taking over 70 weeks. 86 per cent of projects are successful in that process, suggesting something needs fixing.
There is no pathway to a sustainable energy future that does not involve Irish farmers. Inconsistencies in the policy framework unnecessarily place these sectors at odds. For example, our taxation framework is not supportive of multiple land uses such as growing food and generating solar in the same field.
Ireland has among the highest cost renewables in the world. We would welcome a review of the policy and state factors influencing those costs. We incur a higher price than needed for our energy transition.
The future is bright for solar in Ireland if we grasp the opportunity.
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