Ireland pushes for fast action on small-scale renewables

Posted: March 24, 2009 in environment, science & technology
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Ireland expects to boost its rural economies with a new long-term feed-in tariff program encouraging consumers to install renewables energy generation projects on homes and farms.

The incentives are expected to help with the long-term cost of projects, but the government limited the scope of the incentives in order to push for fast action on the part of consumers.

Irish Energy Minister Eamon Ryan established the tariff of €0.19 ($0.26) per kilowatt hour, but the rate only applies for the first 4,000 projects registered during the next three years. The incentive applies to wind, solar, hydro and combined heat-and-power projects.

Ireland’s national energy agency, Sustainable Energy Ireland, is taking applications for grants to cover 40 percent of the cost of projects 50 kilowatts or less, but only 50 projects are expected to qualify.

Ireland has also taken long-term steps, such as removing the need for small-scale renewable energy projects to seek permission from planning authorities. ESB Networks, which operates the country’s electricity distribution network, has established a policy to reduce the length and complexity of the process to connect to the grid.

“We are changing the rules and changing the nature of electricity generation in Ireland,” Ryan said in a news release. “This type of long-term investment with a guaranteed return represents the best value for spending and lending.”

Ireland expects public and private entities to spend €8.5 billion to realize its energy plan through 2013, including €276 million on renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as €150 million in energy research and innovation (see Ireland launches marine power initiative and Ireland to pump $16.5B into renewables).

Ireland imports more than 90 percent of its energy requirements, according to a white paper released by the government in 2007.

By 2020, Ireland plans for renewables to contribute 33 percent of its power generation, while natural gas is expected to be just under 50 percent. Ireland imports 87 percent of its natural gas from the UK.

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