Varadkar would like to see solar panels on all farm roofs

The government is moving forward with plans to introduce a microgeneration scheme that will financially incentivize farmers to install solar panels on farm buildings and sheds.

While a delivery date has not yet been announced, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is in talks with Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan “to agree a reasonable tariff” to pay farmers for every kilowatt-hour of electricity brought from farms to the grid under the looming scheme is exported.

In line with the programme’s environmental benefits, Mr Varadkar said his aim is to bring “better and more stable income streams” to farms within the next five to seven years.

Speaking at Fine Gael’s special conference on agriculture and rural development, the party leader said: “I think solar farms are great, I don’t mind, but I would much rather see solar panels on all farm roofs.

“It is crucial that we can guarantee farmers a reasonable tariff. So when farmers invest in solar panels or micro-wind generation, they know they will pay back the investment — not in 20 years, but in a reasonable timeframe.

“We need a decent and agreed tariff and I’m talking to Eamon Ryan about that at the moment and I think we’ll get a good result.

“When talking to farmers, they tell me they want to do this; They want to get into microgeneration, they want to put solar panels on rooftops and they want the government to facilitate that.”

Martin Heydon, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, said the party’s newly formed Farm and Rural Committee would be the first working body to focus on micro-production.

“Farmers have repeatedly stated that they are willing to do their part to decarbonize our energy system. In small-scale energy production, I believe there is a great opportunity for farmers and rural communities to play an important role.

“That is certainly the aim of Fine Gael and I would suggest that the first work for the forum should be to examine this area with the aim of having a concrete policy position within three months to ensure that we unleash the potential of farmers and rural Ireland in producing clean, green energy.” Varadkar would like to see solar panels on all farm roofs

Fry Electronics Team

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