Budget 2023 should include a new "Roof-top Solar Scheme" (RTSS) and a new "Anaerobic Digestion Support Scheme" (ADSS) to be financed by the Department of Environment, Climate & Communications, says the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).

IFA farm business chair Rose Mary McDonagh said such schemes should be separate from TAMS (Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes) and should “support increased investment in renewable energy sources on-farm”.

“No specific allocation for solar panels or anaerobic digestion exists within the €8bn National Home Energy Upgrade Scheme recently announced,” she warned.

The calls were made to Government parties in the IFA’s pre-budget submission ahead of the formal announcement of the budget, 27 September.

Installation boost

While the funding of on-farm solar panels is currently permitted under the existing TAMS, the IFA says the benefits are mostly accrued by other sectors and therefore, there is a need for the establishment of separate roof top solar and anaerobic digestion support schemes to be financed by Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan’s department.

In its submissions to Government, the IFA says this will be an “important incentive to boost installations and increase our renewable energy sources”.

“The vast majority of the emissions reduction arising from solar panels and anaerobic digestion will accrue to other sectors not agriculture. Therefore, these initiatives should be funded by the departments whose sector are getting emissions benefit,” the IFA said.

The farm organisation also suggested that all farm equipment, including solar panels, that contributes to a reduction in emissions, should also be exempt from VAT.

Surplus electricity

The IFA said that existing regulations are “somewhat restrictive in terms of maximising the generation of renewable energy sources”.

“Farmers receiving grant aid for solar panel installation should be allowed to sell any surplus electricity generated on their farm on to the national grid at attractive rates.

“For the farmer it builds business resilience and provides a diversified income source, while the state also increases its renewable energy sources and reduces its reliance on fossil fuels,” it said.

The IFA’s full budget submission is available here.

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