Friends of the Earth urge Taoiseach to support solar

Published by Niall Sargent on

September 1, 2017

One of Ireland’s leading environmental NGOs has called on the Taoiseach to follow through on his pledge to support the establishment of rooftop solar on residential properties across Ireland.

According to Friends of the Earth (FoE) Ireland, Leo Varadkar was one of 6,000 to sign a petition at Electric Picnic last year which asked the Government to provide a ‘fair payment for solar’.

The group is set to relaunch the Run On Sun campaign at this year’s edition of the festival, which is set to kick off today.

FoE Director Oisín Coghlan said that it is perfect timing as the Government is set to publish details on its long-awaited new plans for renewable electricity in the coming days.

Solar energy is currently the only form of renewable energy which does not provide any form of state support. “Anyone who puts a solar panel on their roof must give away any electricity they don’t use themselves to the national grid for free,” said Mr Coghlan. “That makes no sense.”

Mr Coghlan added that a “rooftop revolution” is taking place all over the world with schools, homeowners, farmers and businesses installing solar panels on their buildings and making money from the electricity they generate.

At present, 1.5 million Germans generate solar electricity on their roofs, with 10,000MW of solar energy deployed in the UK since 2010, compared to 1MW in Ireland.

Mr Coghlan urged the Taoiseach to follow through on his pledge, and “put citizens and communities at heart of the energy revolution”.

A new cost-benefit analysis by Joseph Curtin, a research fellow at both the International and European Affairs and University College Cork, finds that solar panels on homes and businesses can make a significant contribution to Ireland’s switch to clean energy.

The analysis – commissioned by Friends of the Earth (FoE) – also finds that solar power can be easily supported at a reasonable cost for up to on 50,000 homes.

Community and farmer-led solar projects are also waiting for clear guidelines from the Government on future state support, including a guaranteed feed-in tariff and grants for rooftop solar on sheds.

150 FoE volunteers will be running the plastic glass and bottle deposit and return scheme at this year’s Electric Picnic.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London