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Minister Denis Naughten outlines details of a Micro-Generation workshop to be held during Climate Action Week

Minister Denis Naughten is today announcing details of a major workshop to be held tomorrow (Tuesday 17th) during Climate Action Week with key stakeholders to progress 'micro-generation' in Ireland.

The Workshop will:

  • Plan for an energy future where citizens and businesses can produce and consume their own electricity – micro-generation
  • Examine barriers to micro-generation in Ireland
  • Develop a national policy position on micro-generation

On Tuesday 17th October a major workshop will be held in the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin to explore opportunities to develop micro-generation of electricity in Ireland.

Announcing the workshop, Minister Naughten said: "It is opportune now to research how micro-generation of electricity becomes a natural part of Ireland’s energy landscape. To that end I am today announcing an important element of that research process – a workshop that gathers all the key players, including, and importantly community groups and individual citizens. The development of community and citizen led energy projects is something that I feel strongly about and I believe this workshop builds on this ambition in a very meaningful way."

Minister Naughten noted that support for the micro-generation of electricity was included in a recent economic assessment undertaken to underpin the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), a support programme currently being developed by his Department.

The objective of the workshop, Minister Naughten said: "is to build on this economic analysis, and develop a common understanding of the barriers to micro-generation in Ireland. It is only when we have this common appreciation of the main challenges that we can start to examine potential solutions to overcome them. The workshop will present an opportunity to further investigate micro-generation, taking into account the economic evidence, support options, EU policy including regulation and other constraints such as grid considerations."

Minister Naughten added: "the Government fully appreciates and accepts the multiple benefits associated with micro-generation of electricity, both in terms of assisting on climate action and renewables targets. It also plays a significant role in increasing awareness of the benefits of renewable energy and in improving societal acceptance of renewable energy projects.”

Jim Gannon, CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) said “SEAI is delighted to co-host this workshop on micro-generation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. From our own trials and research over the past number of years, alongside recent EU policy signalling and a dramatic reduction in technology costs, it is evident that micro-generation is becoming a more feasible option for citizens and companies. Although it remains the case that on a purely economic basis micro-generation still struggles to challenge large scale, there are indirect benefits of micro-generation that can provide additional value. The challenge faced in many jurisdictions is that the interventions that most effectively incentivise large-scale generation, may not always be effective at the micro-generation scale. In the context of the RESS, we look forward to facilitating this workshop, to explore what options exist and by what means they could be tested.”

The workshop will bring together all relevant stakeholders across a range of energy sectors including Community Groups, NGOs, Energy Suppliers, Government, Electricity Grid experts, Planners, Energy Industry Groups, Installers, Equipment Manufacturers, Farming Groups, Researches and individual citizens.


 

Notes to Editors:

Micro-generation of electricity relates to electricity generators on the low voltage distribution network. The definition typically encompasses generators deployed within homes, businesses and other commercial properties, where there is some level of self-consumption of the electricity generated. It includes technologies such as small-scale solar PV, wind turbines, hydro and combined heat and power.

A public consultation on the emerging characteristics of the RESS is currently open and will remain open until November 3rd at 16.00hrs. All consultation documents including detailed studies into renewable technology costs and community renewable electricity projects can be found on www.dccae.ie or at http://www.dccae.ie/en-ie/energy/consultations/Pages/Renewable-Electricity-Support-Scheme-Design-Consultation.aspx

The RESS analysis undertaken suggests that support for micro and small-scale renewable generation is best achieved outside of the main RESS. There are multiple reasons for this:

  1. 1. The relative higher costs associated with micro and small-scale generation compared to larger-scale community-led and developer-led projects.
  2. 2. The required network charge and tariff reforms needed to ensure self-generators/self-consumers contribute fairly to the costs associated with maintaining the electricity grid.
  3. 3. Further work is required to identify a fair and just means for compensating self-generating consumers, ensuring micro and small-scale supports are aligned with the principles of the emerging recast Renewable Energy Directive.
  4. 4. Further analysis is required to ensure an equitable distributional impact on the PSO and make sure that those who cannot afford to participate in such schemes and those who are in rented accommodation are not unfairly penalised by subsiding those who can afford to participate.

This approach aligns with that of other EU Member States who have undertaken, or are looking to undertake, reforms to ensure self-consumers are treated in a fair and equitable manner. There is a risk that a scheme developed to support micro generation and self-consumers and that does not address these issues first will most likely need reforming. There are examples from EU in particular Germany and Italy where micro generation schemes have had to be reformed.

Notwithstanding the above, it is important to note that a number of opportunities for small scale renewable generation, and opportunities for community and citizen participation in the energy transition, will be delivered and supported through the community driven policies being developed as part of the RESS design.

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