All schools are to have solar panels fitted under a new scheme being devised.
Details are still being finalised but it is understood the Cabinet gave broad approval to the idea as part of what Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has dubbed Ireland’s “rooftop revolution”.
It would see every school in the country retrofitted with rooftop solar and other forms of solar PV panels.
The move would help cut future energy bills for schools which are facing a major struggle with electricity costs this winter.
It would also boost renewable electricity output and cut carbon emissions, and the schools could earn money by providing excess power to the national grid at weekends and during holidays.
The initiative will be an addition to a solar support scheme announced for businesses, sporting organisations and community groups today.
Grants of up to €2,400 are to be provided for the installation of solar panels on premises owned and run by them.
That matches the maximum grant currently available to householders for domestic solar panels.
Applicants eligible for the new scheme can install up to a maximum of 6kWp of solar PV, or around 16 panels covering 25 square metres.
The Department of Environment estimates that could save €3000 a year in electricity bills at the current high prices.
The organisations will also be able to take part in the microgeneration scheme which allows householders to be paid or given credits for supplying excess power to the grid.
“This new support scheme is part of a wider roll-out of initiatives to make the installation of solar easier and more cost effective for homeowners, businesses and public bodies,” said Environment Minister Eamon Ryan.
“It’s Ireland’s rooftop revolution.”
The new grants will be administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
Education Minister Norma Foley welcomed the move which she said would complement the roll-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in schools.
Ms Foley said some schools had installed solar panels and EV charging under the Summer Works Scheme and this approach would continue and be expanded, with the SEAI grants wrapped in so that schools did not have to make duplicate applications to separate bodies.