Chair of the Micro Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) Pat Smith has welcomed an increase in the rate of grant to support on-farm solar energy installations from 40% to 60% under a revised TAMS grant scheme for farmers.

There is also a €200 income disregard for exports of renewable power, but the MREF says a higher figure may be needed to incentivise business and farming to make the “green shift”.

Smith commented: “The TAMS application process needs to be straight forward and the kilowatt hour restrictions for some farms need to be removed, or increased very significantly.

“All farmers should be able to access this new 60% grant rate, including farmers who may have already reached their spending limit under the current TAMS programme.”

Smith continued: “The MREF has continually argued that there is enough roof space on farms and businesses in Ireland to accommodate up to 3,000 MW of solar powered micro-generation and deliver the equivalent of €500m per year in renewable electricity, which will be a massive benefit to rural communities and the country as a whole.

“However, we need to incentivise and support farmers and businesses in making the ‘green shift’ to producing and using renewable power,” he added.

Smith also commented on the announcement of a “modest disregard” from personal income tax received by households who sell surplus electricity that they generate through micro-generation.

“An income disregard of €200 will be of some benefit to households, but is likely to be too low for farmers and businesses and should be revisited in the finance bill,” he concluded.