The Micro Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) has welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s release of revised TAMS reference costs for solar panel installation.

The newly-announced reference costs for the installation of solar panels under TAMS have been increased by 20% relative to the reference costs applied to the last tranche of the scheme.

MREF chair Pat Smith commented that the increases, while welcomed, had been long overdue in light of increases to the cost of purchasing and installing photovoltaic panels.

“This increase in TAMS reference costs has been long overdue. The original reference prices fell short of the actual installation costs on farms,” explained Smith.

“This, coupled with a VAT refund on solar PV installation costs and the option to avail of 100% accelerated capital tax allowances in the year that the expenditure takes place, makes solar PV an excellent on-farm investment for farmers,” he continued.

TAMS limit

The renewable energy organisation drew attention to the fact that many farmers wishing to install solar panels under the scheme may find themselves ineligible, as TAMS applications for farm buildings or machinery may have meant that they have reached their investment limit.

“Under the current TAMS scheme, many thousands of farmers are excluded from applying for grant supports for solar PV, as they have already reached the limit on their TAMS entitlements, or they are being excluded through other unnecessary restrictions within the current TAMS scheme.”

Renewable energy

Solar panels installed on the roofs of farm buildings have the capacity to generate €500m per year in renewable electricity, posing a large revenue opportunity to rural communities, MREF has claimed.

“It does not make sense that thousands of acres of roof space on Irish farms are not being effectively used to help meet our climate action goals, while thousands of acres of good land, that can be used for farming, are being earmarked for solar PV installations backed mainly by multi-national pension funds,” Smith added.