Wednesday, 11 May 2022 | 14.3°C Dublin
Solar panels could be a nice side earner for homeowners. Photo: Getty
May 09 2022 02:30 AM
More than 21,000 electricity customers have signed up to sell power from their solar panels back to the national grid from July.
Most of the “microgenerators" are residential customers who have already been providing the surplus from their rooftop panels for free because no system was in place to pay them.
Solar power must be used at the time it is generated or else stored in batteries for use later in the day or at night, but the cost of storage units is too high for many households.
Under a scheme announced last February, customers with a grid connection and a smart meter now have the power they “export” to the grid measured and a fee will be payable from July.
The Clean Export Guarantee tariff will, in most cases, be paid as a discount from electricity bills for power used when solar is not available or is insufficient to meet the home’s needs. ESB Networks said that just over 21,000 customers were now set up to receive the tariff but with enhanced solar panel grants now available, it is expected the number will rise.
Solar panels can be installed separately from other retrofit measures, and properties do not have to show an improvement in energy rating to avail of the grants.
An ESB Networks spokesperson said that anyone who had solar panels but had not signed up for the tariff, or was fitting panels for the first time, should fill out an NC6 microgeneration notification form. This would allow checks to be carried out to ensure their installation was eligible for the payment.
The amount paid is decided by individual electricity suppliers. Pinergy was one of the first to declare its offering at 13.5 cent per kilowatt hour (kwh).
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Payments, or bill credits, are backdated to February when the scheme was formally announced. A €200 disregard has been introduced so no payment up to this level will be liable for income tax.
The scheme is also open to microgeneration from other technologies such as micro-wind but in practice, solar is by far the most common.
A separate scheme is to come into effect for customers with larger solar arrays later this year.
The Clean Export Premium, aimed at industry, large farms, schools, community buildings and institutions, will pay a smaller rate per kwh but will be fixed for 15 years.
EirGrid, which manages the national electricity grid, is preparing to handle around 600 megawatts of microgenerated solar power by 2030, enough to fully power a quarter of a million homes.
With interest in the technology strong already and many new homes being built with solar panels fitted, the Government has signalled that the current level of grant supports and payments designed to boost uptake will phase out later in the decade.
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