14 July 2022
By Tom Collins
131,533 homes in Cork have space for ten solar panels (3.4KW) – Homeowners could reduce electricity bills by €450 per year
New research has shown the significant potential for Cork from the use of rooftop solar panels. The study by MaREI, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, based in University College Cork (UCC) found that domestic rooftop solar panels could produce enough electricity to power one in four Irish Homes.
Commissioned by the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA), MaREI found that 131,533 homes in Cork have roof space and orientation suitable for ten solar panels (3.4KW). It found that if all suitable homes in the county were to avail of this opportunity it would fulfil 22% of the county’s residential electricity demand.
Nationwide there are overall a million homes that could accommodate ten solar panels. This has potential to meet 8% of the country’s renewable targets. In addition, it would save the average household €450 per year.
Outlining the findings Paul Deane, Senior Research Fellow in clean energy futures with the MaREI Centre in UCC, said, “Advances in solar technology and reductions in cost now make it a very attractive prospect for any homeowner. We don’t associate Ireland as a sunny country but there is sufficient sunlight shining on our Irish roofs to make a meaningful impact on electricity bills”
“By analysing every rooftop in Ireland for the first time we can reveal the scale of the potential. Putting ten solar panels (3.4KW) on every suitable home in Ireland can reduce 135,000 tonnes of C02 emissions and help Ireland meet 8% of its Renewable Electricity Target. Six solar panels on every suitable home would generate enough electricity to power 22% of homes and reduce emissions by 95,000 tonnes.”
The research also shows that if every home was to maximise the potential of solar panels on every suitable home, it would provide some with savings of over €500 in electricity bills while delivering 19% of our renewable electricity target and producing 36% of all residential demand. Around 24,000 homes have already begun the transition to solar but there is much more potential for Ireland to generate significant amounts of solar energy.
Welcoming the findings ISEA CEO Conall Bolger said, “Rooftop solar has tremendous potential in Ireland and provides a hugely positive route for individuals to support climate action. With energy prices continuing to rise people can take greater control of their costs by investing in rooftop solar. Six solar panels on a suitable home in Dublin, for example, would save €380 on annual electricity bills with the system paying back for itself in 7 years.
“A further exciting initiative commenced at the start of this month offers even greater benefits with homes finally compensated for unused solar energy that goes onto the national grid. Previously, any unused energy went to waste, now it will travel the network, powering someone else’s home with the green energy your home generated. Homeowners will receive compensation for this under what is called the Microgeneration Support Scheme.”
”Homeowners can also benefit from a substantial grant from SEAI for installing solar PV. These measures in combination are a great incentive for people to place solar panels on their roof and ensure they are included in Ireland’s decarbonisation journey.
“While these grants are an excellent support, investing in solar technology may be unattainable for people who are currently experiencing fuel poverty. We believe the Government should introduce a means test and fully fund the installation of rooftop solar panels for people in fuel poverty. This would allow them to generate their own clean green power for decades to come and offer protection from volatile energy costs.”