Farmers and homeowners should receive a higher tariff for power produced from roof-mounted solar panels and other small-scale equipment, the IFA said in its submission to the Govermnent’s renewable electricity consultation that closed last week.

The IFA proposes to ring-fence 20% of the public service obligation (PSO) levy paid by consumers on all electricity bills and use the resulting €100m to pay 17c/kWh for electricity from micro-generation for the next 20 years.

Those larger renewable projects including community participation should receive a 2.5c/kWh premium on their tariff and priority for grid connections and planning permission, the submission added. The IFA argues that the PSO levy has so far funded only large-scale wind farms, which are “no longer acceptable to rural communities”.

IFA renewables project chairman James Murphy said the suggestion in the Government’s consultation paper “to exclude micro-generation from the renewable electricity support scheme is flawed”.

“It could have a central role to play in renewable electricity generation in this country, rather than investors who often come from overseas," he added, pointing out that last week's COP23 global climate summit had shown Ireland to be "at the back of the scene for renewable energy generation".

Speaking at COP23 in Germany, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten said: "We must not only look at where food comes from but also how it is produced in terms of emissions." While Ireland is already a world leader in emissions per litre of milk produced, he said emissions from beef would catch up through "the biggest genetic database in the world of beef producing animals" created under BDGP. He added that the Smart Farming initiative and food waste measures would reduce emission from the agri-food sector.

Environmentalists and the opposition, however, have slammed the Government's record as an independent index published at COP23 showed Ireland to rank last in Europe on performance in tackling climate change.