Following the recent drops in global emissions due to national lockdowns from the Covid-19 pandemic, environmental targets have never been higher on our agenda as a nation, with increasing numbers of UK business and homeowners using domestic and commercial solar panels to take control of their energy.
The same is true for Ireland, who’ve recently been making great strides in the long, arduous but rewarding process of transforming their national energy mix. So how does solar factor into this energy mix, and how is the country’s government planning to use it in their mission to build a sustainable future?
The country looking on the sunny side
Right now, the low-carbon economy in Irish is enjoying a period of what some are calling unprecedented optimism. It’s on course to meet its 2020 target of 40% electricity from renewable sources, and it’s recently been making firm commitments to low carbon initiatives via a number of frameworks and legislation, including the ‘Programme for Government – Our Shared Future’, the Climate Action Plan 2019. And of course, there’s the European Green Deal, through which it’s pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Carbon neutrality is amongst Ireland’s ultimate long term aims, and as part of achieving them it’s currently focusing its attention on achieving similarly tough goals much closer on the horizon. By 2030, clean energy is expected to become the largest source of global energy production, and by that date Ireland plans for renewable energy to make up at least 70% of its overall energy mix. It’s an ambitious target – factoring in an expected growth of demand, it’ll probably require that the current levels are doubled.
While wind currently accounts for a large proportion of Ireland’s renewable energy sector, solar is an area of increasing focus too, as Ireland looks to diversify its renewable energy generation portfolio. The development of a National Energy Efficiency Action Plan is currently underway, as well as the development of a Solar Energy Strategy.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has also launched a competitive auction process to further incentivise the use of solar panels – the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RSS). This is a series of annual auctions which give entrants the chance to win a two-way contract-for-difference-based Power Purchase Agreement.
The long road towards a brighter future
Experts agree that Ireland has come quite a long way in a very short space of time. Even as little as a year ago, lots of key aspects of the country’s energy policy were still uncertain. The clarity and focus has been primarily attributed to strong leadership from the Irish government, but there’s also a notable enthusiasm from Irish homeowners and businesses too.
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels were once a relatively rare sight on Irish rooftops, but they’re becoming exponentially more common as people embrace the energy savings that this technology provides, as well as the and increased control and security over energy production and consumption. Gradually, large parts of Ireland’s population are shifting from consumers to ‘prosumers’ – in other words, producing energy as well as consuming it.
Of course, these are still relatively early stages, and leaders in Ireland acknowledge that there’s a long way to go until the country achieves the sustainable goals set by the government and the EU. In the words of one senior official, making systemic changes to a nation’s energy system is “a game that must be won in the first half”. But spurred on by the recent worldwide emissions drops from national lockdowns, if Ireland can maintain the momentum it’s been building up with its solar energy sector, experts contend that its future of solar energy still looks bright.
We have our own office in Ireland here at Low Carbon Energy, and we’re currently engaged in a number of projects on its shores. What’s more, we’ve completed a wide range of projects right here in the UK, too – you can take a look through some of our case studies to find out a bit more about them! With 30 years of combined experience behind us, our experts know exactly how to help your business make the most of commercial solar panels. To find out how we can help you, feel free to give us a call today on 01282 421 489.