There exists two main types of solar panel in Ireland; solar thermal and solar photovoltaic (PV).
Both types are explained below.
Although we don't receive much sun, Ireland can still benefit from solar power - it does not need to be sunny to generate power!
A reduction in our carbon emissions will rely heavily on the widespread implementation of all forms of renewable energy.
Solar power will be a key player in Ireland's changing energy scene.
Solar Power in Ireland
Solar Photovoltaic involves harnessing the sun's energy and converting it into electricity to power homes and businesses.
Produces 0.1% of all renewable electricity in Ireland, although demand is increasing rapidly
Costs range from 3000 - 10000 euros, providing up to 50% of electricity demands. Some companies quote higher figures. Lifespan is approximately 25-30 years, with panel efficiency decreasing greatly around this time.
Cheapest short term route to renewable energy micro-generation.
Solar thermal involves the harnessing of the sun's energy to produce hot water for use in a household or business.
Utilizes the sun's rays to directly heat water which runs through the panel.
This water is then pumped throughout the building to provide heat.
Only produces 5% of all renewable heat energy in Ireland.
Lower overall costs than PV panels, can provide 70-80% of hot water requirements. Lifespan of 25-30 years.
Solar PV capacity in Ireland is one of the lowest in Europe. Currently Ireland has a total capacity of 15.7 MW, consisting of 11.9 MW residential capacity and 3.8 MW commercial capacity.
Solar PV only account for 0.1% of renewable electricity in Ireland and is the least employed of the established renewable electricity sources.
The cost of solar power has decreased rapidly in recent years. Solar power is quickly becoming the easiest and cheapest option to start producing your own green electricity in Ireland.
There are no large-scale solar farms in Ireland at the moment, although many are planned for the future. 86 developments have been granted planning permission between 2015 and 2018. Commercial solar farms are currently more expensive than commercial wind farms in Ireland and so their wide-scale installation is still a few years off.
There is a desired 1.5 GW of grid scale solar energy by 2030 as part of Ireland's Climate Action Plan. The Government have pledged to continue the long established grant programme, which is detailed below.
Solar Power Grants
There exists a long established grant scheme through the SEAI.
A grant of up to 3800 euros is available towards the installation costs of solar panels and batteries for electricity storage.
For Solar PV, the grant amount is calculated based upon the output of the solar panels. An applicant can receive 700 euros per kW of capacity up to a maximum of 4kWp and a further 1000 euros towards the cost of a battery storage system.
For solar thermal a grant of up to 1200 euros is available.
The government has committed to extending the grant scheme as part of the Climate Action Plan. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland is the government body responsible for grant applications. Please follow the link below for more information on the grants available and how much you could save by installing solar panels.
Average PV solar panel around 300 watts.
Multiple panels linked to give total maximum output.
Killowatts peak (kWp) is the rate at which a panel generates electricity at peak performance.
A 3 kWp system consisting of 10 panels can generate 2800 kWp per annum.
Average consumption is 4200 kWp per annum.
kW and kWp
How can Grian help you?
Solar PV is currently the cheapest and most established option for personal renewable energy generation. Solar thermal is also widely employed in Irish households. There has never been a better time to install solar energy systems in your home.
Grian will determine using local solar data how much kWp a standard system could be expected to produce once installed, while also calculating the potential savings.
We will then contact Solar thermal and PV providers to determine what's the best option for you.
Solar panels will ideally require south-facing roofs for maximum output.
The roof should not be obstructed by trees or similar obstacles.
As expected, some areas of the country are more suited to solar panels.
Solar Thermal panels require more direct sunlight than solar PV.
Recycling Solar Panels
Widespread implementation of solar panels would be pointless if there was no recycling system in place to deal with end-of life-panels. This is an important issue as there will be an estimated 60 million tonnes of solar PV waste by 2050.
As more solar panels begin to be decommissioned it remains to be seen if the recycling methods in place are both practical and sustainable. If correct procedure is not in place then the world will face a new waste crisis to deal with the influx of end-of-life panels, dealing an ironic blow to our attempt to reduce our carbon footprint.
It is not currently economically viable in many countries to recycle solar panels. Hopefully this will change as the market for solar panel recycling inevitably grows. Thankfully many countries require end-of-life panels to be recycled by law.
We have included some useful links below related to solar panel recycling.
Recycling In Ireland
Under EU law end-of-life solar panels in Ireland must be recycled. As solar power is relatively new in Ireland there are not many recycling services available.
WEEE Ireland announced a partnership in 2017 with PV Cycle, a non-profit membership led organisation which deals with PV module waste collection and disposal. The benefit of this partnership should be realized in the coming years.
We have found two businesses currently catering to solar power recycling in Ireland, mainly damaged panels in need of replacement. We have included links below.
PV recycling process statistics - useful info on what can be recycled from solar panels and the future of PV waste management.
PV Cycle - Global organisation set up to sustainably manage future influx of PV waste.