Wednesday 18 October 2017

Government subsidies for dirty energy from peat up 330pc, but our call for support falls on deaf ears, says solar boss

Michael Bradley of Solar 21
Michael Bradley of Solar 21
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

A solar energy company has lashed out at Government subsidies paid for energy produced from peat, claiming the supports have grown by 330pc in 2011.

Michael Bradley is chief executive of Irish firm Solar21. He and other solar businesses want solar-generated energy to be included in State subsidies provided to make energy production commercially viable.

They are angry that fossil fuels such as peat receive subsidies while solar does not. Peat is one of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels, releasing twice as much CO2 (carbon dioxide) as natural gas.

"The Public Service Obligation [PSO] levy, the fixed cost that every Irish electricity customer must pay, has increased substantially in the last five years from €40m in 2011 to over €440m in 2016. Each household and business must pay a part of this fixed cost" he said.

"A large portion of the levy supports the use of peat as an energy source. This low quality and dirty energy fossil fuel makes up 30pc of the current PSO. The cost to support peat has increase by 339pc since 2011 - from €40m to €137.7m.

"The whole idea of applying this charge to consumers' energy bills was to generate money to help Ireland to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels - so it seems absolutely crazy that instead of spending this money on wind, solar and other sustainable and renewable energy projects, the Government has instead diverted it to support a fossil fuel energy source that is definitely not sustainable or renewable."

Solar-generated energy is not currently in receipt of State subsidies, unlike peat energy
Solar-generated energy is not currently in receipt of State subsidies, unlike peat energy

Responding, the Department of Energy said the peat element of the PSO was introduced in 2003 to support electricity generation from domestic fuel, for 'security of supply' reasons.

"Policy measures to enhance Ireland's energy security, energy independence and long-term economic sustainability are mindful of the need to ensure that costs be minimised as far as possible," a spokesperson added.

Solar energy may still be awarded State subsidies, the spokesperson added. "It is widely recognised that solar photovoltaic technology has become more cost competitive for electricity generation over the last few years.

"It is also recognised, however, that while the cost competitiveness of solar photovoltaic technology has improved, it would still require a subsidy in order to be developed on a commercial basis."

While no decision has been taken on the precise renewable technologies to be supported as part of any new scheme, solar is being assessed, the person said.

Sunday Indo Business

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