Farmers being priced out of renewable energy - IFA

Tom Short, Chairman of Wicklow IFA
Tom Short, Chairman of Wicklow IFA
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Farmers could effectively be priced out of the renewable electricity market by multi-national wind and solar energy companies.

The IFA's Tom Short has accused the Government of creating a renewable energy policy that "favours big wind to the exclusion of smaller farm-scale projects".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week pledged huge investment in wind and solar power to more than double the volume of energy from renewable sources over the next decade. Mr Varadkar has committed to going from 30pc wind and solar energy to 70pc by 2030.

However, Mr Shortt claimed the current Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) will exclude the meaningful participation of farm developments because of the requirement that small-scale projects compete in an auction system for contracts against "mega wind and large solar" interests.

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"It's clear from Government actions to date that they are only interested in supporting mega wind projects which for the most part will be built offshore, and to a lesser extent large solar. These mega projects will be predominantly owned by major international companies and large international investor/hedge funds," Mr Shortt said.

"Unfortunately, they will create minimal local employment once they are built out and are of limited benefit to local farmers and rural communities as profits in the main will be repatriated to the fund owners who reside outside Ireland," he added.

"The EU clearly recognises that the generation of renewable energy is more expensive than that from fossil fuels. Without financial incentives, the market will not deliver the required level of renewable energy," added Mr Shortt.

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