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Financial supports should only be seen as a short-term solution to energy crisis

Significant investment in solar power would help Ireland meet its climate action targets and improve our medium to long-term energy security, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on Climate and Biodiversity, said:

“There are differing views as to how long the current energy crisis will last, with predictions ranging from anything between two and seven years. As there is no end in sight to the conflict in Ukraine, it would be prudent to prepare for the more pessimistic scenario.

“The recent financial supports provided will only insulate households and businesses from skyrocketing energy costs in the short-term. The Government should use the limited space these measures have created to considerably ramp-up spending on solar energy.

“With uncertain economic times ahead, Ireland needs to significantly invest in a solar panel installation programme while it is in a financial position to do so.

“It is estimated just 20,000 homes around the country have solar panels installed, with around one million additional properties believed to be suitable. But for many households – even those qualifying for the maximum grants available through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) – the cost of having solar panels installed remains prohibitive.

“There are multiple benefits to solar power: it can save households up to 40pc of energy costs; the work can be carried out quickly; and people can be trained up as installers in a matter of weeks.

“There has been a poverty of ambition in this area from the Government, with just an additional €14 million for solar energy in Budget 2023.

“The Social Democrats proposed an initial €200 million fund to provide grants to households to install solar panels. We believe funding could eventually be scaled up to a point where 100,000 homes and buildings per year are being fitted with solar panels, with priority given to low-income households.

“The Government should use the short window it has to future-proof our homes, businesses and schools. This will help us reach our emission reduction targets by 2030 and make us more resilient to future energy supply shocks.”

November 16, 2022

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