The Solar Capital Investment Scheme (SCIS), part of TAMS III, presents an exceptional opportunity for farmers to future-proof their farm businesses. Under the scheme, farmers can secure grant aid of up to 60% for solar panels and batteries.

Key questions

Below is a list of questions that I have been asked regarding the scheme over the past couple of months.

Can everyone avail of the 60% grant rate or just young farmers?

Every eligible farmer can avail of up to 60% grant aid towards the cost of a solar PV system under the SCIS.

Does the SCIS have a separate investment ceiling?

Solar panel applications will fall under a standalone investment ceiling of €90,000. This means farmers can secure up to €90,000 in grant aid for a solar PV system without affecting their ability to claim grant aid on other TAMS items.

What is eligible in the grant?

All items associated with the installation are covered – panels, inverters and controllers, isolation switches and cabling.

Are batteries included in the grant?

Yes, you can also avail of a grant of up to 60% towards the cost of batteries but the size of the battery is limited to 50% of the capacity of the panels.

How do I work out the reference costs of the solar panels?

The Department of Agriculture’s latest reference costs, available on its website, outline what it deems to be the average costs of solar panels, along with the inverter and controller. The cost breakdown is as follows, with all prices excluding VAT:

  • Reference cost = €1,441 per installed kilowatt + €1,849.
  • Therefore, a 10kWp (peak output of the in kilowatts) solar PV system’s reference cost would work out as:

  • €1,441 by 10 + €1,849 = €16,259.
  • Farmers are eligible to claim a grant of 60% of this, or a maximum of €9,917.4.

    Solar PV rechargeable batteries will also be eligible for grant aid. The reference cost is calculated as follows:

  • Reference cost = €703 per installed kWh + €753.
  • For a 5kWh battery, the reference cost works out as €4,268. Farmers are eligible to claim a maximum grant of 60% of this, or €2,560.80.

    Are the Department’s reference costs accurate?

    Solar panel costs vary depending on the type, quality and system size. A 6kWp system using premium panels could exceed the Department’s reference cost of €1,441, whereas larger systems, such as a 30kWp operation, may cost less than the reference cost. The grant aid a farmer receives will be based on the lower of the reference cost or the actual cost, if it is less than the reference cost.

    If my solar quote is over the reference costs, do I pay the difference?

    Yes, you pay the difference and this isn’t eligible for grant aid.

    Is there a difference in panel types

    In Ireland, there are two main types of monocrystalline solar panels: glass-foil and glass-glass. Glass-foil panels are cheaper and typically have a 25-year performance guarantee, but their efficiency reduces faster than glass-glass panels, typically by 0.55% to 0.7% per year.

    Glass-glass panels are considered premium. They are more expensive but have a longer life expectancy with a 30-year performance guarantee. Their annual degradation rate is lower at around 0.34% per year, and they are guaranteed to perform at around 87% after 30 years.

    Most glass-glass panels installed in Ireland are manufactured in the EU.

    When does the first tranche of the SCIS close?

    The closing date for the first tranche is 16 June.

    How long will it take to get accepted?

    The first tranche hasn’t closed yet but farmers who apply today likely won’t find out if they have been accepted until late summer/early autumn. You can’t start work until then.

    Will there be more tranches this year?

    There will likely be two more tranches again this year where farmers can apply for the SCIS. The scheme is due to run for five years.

    Can I export electricity from TAMS-funded panels to the grid?

    According to the Department’s guidelines, all electricity generated from the grant-aided panels must be used solely for agricultural purposes on the farm, but this includes powering the farmhouse.

    It is not permitted to use the electricity for non-farming or commercial purposes, nor can it be exported and sold through the grid.

    The on- farm solar PV survey will limit the size of panels which you can install.

    This regulation aims to prevent farmers from having an unfair competitive advantage over other unsupported industries that produce and sell electricity.

    Can the Department stop me?

    No, the Department cannot physically stop you from exporting electricity to the grid.

    How do they prevent me exporting?

    To claim a grant, the size of the solar PV system will be determined based on the farm’s electricity usage, rather than a fixed grant amount.

    To get this information, an on-farm solar PV survey must be conducted and submitted with the application, which includes details such as the MPRN of the electricity meter, previous 12-month electricity bills, proposed PV panel and battery size and output, and system mounting specifications.

    Only one house can be considered in the demand calculation.

    Can I get paid for exported electricity?

    Any producer of renewable electricity now has the right to export surplus electricity back to the grid and be paid the Clean Export Guarantee tariff. This a deal between the producer and supplier of electricity. Prices on the market currently range from 14c/kWh to 24c/kWh.

    Do I need to apply for a grid connection?

    You will have to notify the ESB of your intention to install panels and export to the grid. This may mean applying for a new type of grid connection under the ESB’s simplified Mini-Generation NC7 connection process.

    Under the NC7 connection, the maximum size of system which can be installed on a single-phase line is around 17kW.

    This refers to the size of inverter, which would likely support a solar PV system of up to 22-25kWp in output.

    With three-phase, the maximum size allowed would be 50kW at inverter level, or roughly 75kWp of solar PV output.

    Can I oversize my panels to factor in future demand?

    The on-farm solar PV survey will limit the size of panels which you can install. The Department also specifies that the TAMS III unit must be an “isolated and discrete system”.

    My farmhouse isn’t on the same electricity meter as my farm. Can I still count it in the solar PV survey?

    No, the farmhouse must be on the same electricity meter with the same MPRN number to be counted.

    Are ground-mounted panels included in TAMS

    Yes, but the area of panels cannot exceed 75m2, and the height of a free-standing solar array shall not exceed 2.5m.

    Do I need planning permission for my panels?

    Planning permission or a declaration of exemption is necessary only for solar PV panels exceeding 300m2 in size or if the farm is located within a solar safeguarding zone near an airport or airfield. The map of these zones can be found at

    Additionally, if the total area of ground-mounted solar panels is more than 75m2 or the panel height is above 2.5m, planning permission will also be required.

    What happens if the scheme is oversubscribed?

    If the scheme is oversubscribed, the Department will evaluate applicants based on various criteria, such as areas of natural constraints, young farmers and nitrates levels. However, the Department has not confirmed whether the budget will be increased.

    Where do I apply for the SCIS?

    Applications can be made through your account of the Department’s website under the TAMS III SCIS tab. Your adviser will also be able to submit the application for you.