Thousands of Irish schools to hit the books for solar


Roughly 1,600 schools in Ireland can apply from today to receive 16 solar panels – equating to 6 kW of solar – installed on their rooftops, the Irish government announced last week.

The initiative, called the Solar for Schools Programme, aims to get Ireland in-line with meeting its climate targets and help schools reduce their energy bills, said the Department for Education, the ministry responsible for spearheading the initiative.

The Irish government said the school’s panels will be connected to the grid and can share energy with neighbors during periods of closure, such as school holidays.

Schools are expected to save an estimated €1,200 to €1,600 ($1,311 to $1,748) per annum through the scheme, with the project’s first phase to be completed by the end of May.

The Irish government said it wants to use the program to “encourage more companies to enter the installer market.” There are roughly 550 non-domestic and domestic solar installers registered with the national energy agency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

The Irish government said a budget for Schools for Solar has not been released as it is commercially sensitive. The first batch of schools – from 11 areas – will be invited to apply from today and the remaining 2,400 will be invited over the next year in scheduled phases, the Department of Education said.

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“The phasing of the programme will ensure a managed and steady flow of work for solar PV contractors,” the announcement reads. The Irish government schools must seek three installation quotes and the government will pay for one.

Meanwhile, earlier this month the Irish government published its “Energy Security in Ireland to 2030” report. The document said the country was on track to securing 8 GW of solar installed capacity by the end of the decade. It came after Conall Bolger, CEO of the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA), recently criticized the government's Renewable Electricity Support Scheme to pv magazine for having “high rate” of project attrition.

The International Renewable Energy Agency said that Ireland recorded 135 MW of installed solar capacity at the end of last year, according to its most up-to-date estimates.

But according to another report by ISEA, around 680 MW of solar power has been deployed across 59,888 generators in Ireland as of July 2023. Most of this capacity originates from seven large-scale plants surpassing 5 MW totaling 349 MW, the group said.

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