On 27th September, the latest budget was announced against a backdrop of high inflation and continued increases in the cost of living. Minister Pascal Donoghue stated “…Government is acting to reduce emissions and support newer cleaner technologies, particularly in energy and transport.” One of this budget’s principal aims was to try and find a balance between the governments continued commitment to action on climate change combined with the demand and necessity to increase funding in other areas.
The government spokesperson stated that Climate Action “must remain at the top of the agenda” and that strategies are already set for 2030. Minister Michael McGrath commented on the need “…to reduce our dependence on energy imports… by accelerating the shift to renewable energy.”
The following comment – on windfall gains from those energy companies who are not relying on Russian gas to produce their electricity: “It is not fair for companies to earn excess profits in the current volatility of the market” and that Ireland would introduce its own measures to combat this if the EU does not step in under the broader proposals – may impact renewable energy producers. Proposals submitted to the EU recommend capping revenue at a maximum of €180 per mwh on wind, solar and nuclear producers.
The 2023 Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) has been allocated €90 million to incentivise farmers to produce renewable electricity. The addition of solar panels to farm buildings (including farmhouses) will be aided by grants of up to 60% funding. In a Farmers Journal report, feedback from young farmers at the recent Ploughing Championships, was that interest in shed roof solar PV was “off the charts” as they become a lot more aware of the benefits of solar power, and the financial gains of the potential to sell any surplus back to the grid. However, a spokesperson from the Irish Solar Energy Association described the budget as a missed opportunity in not creating a policy framework to address the cause of energy cost increases, describing the electricity credits as a short-sighted provision.
€112 million has been set aside to continue to support the current Forestry Programme and fund new forest owners – the “Shared National Vision for Trees and Forests” which anticipates the right trees in the right places for the right reasons with the right management should consider the future potential of land for both wind and solar farms whilst deciding where to plant any new forests.
It is now also government policy to establish Ireland as a worldwide innovation hub for the renewable energy sector, with tax relief for investment in Irish indigenous businesses. An extra
€150m has now been set aside for the Department of Energy, Climate and Communications to enable further R&D into the reduction of carbon emissions, improving energy efficiency and facilitating the achievement of national goals under the Climate Action Plan. This will hopefully bring even more foreign investment and strengthen Ireland’s position further in this sector of the global economy.