The scheme to sell surplus solar electricity to the grid in Ireland is now live… And it’s been worth the wait.
Energy retailers are now offering up to €0.14 per unit exported solar electricity. So read on to learn all about solar export payments in Ireland.
Or check out or table of the highest solar export payments in Ireland.
A little background to solar export payments
Solar panels can provide most of the electricity for a typical home. This saves on electricity from the grid, lowering your bills. But there’s now an extra benefit to solar panels in Ireland – export payments.
You see, whenever your solar panels generate more electricity than your house can consume, the excess gets sent out to the electric grid. Irish solar panel owners did not get paid when this happened… until now. Here’s how it works:
Export payment for homeowners and small businesses
From June 2022, homeowners will be eligible to sell their surplus solar electricity to their electricity supplier. The same will apply to farmers, business owners, and non-profits with small amounts (up to 5.9kW) of solar on their roofs. Prices for exported electricity will be negotiated between electricity suppliers and consumers, and solar panel owners will be free to shop around for the highest payment.
Solar panel owners in this category can also get a grant (up to €2,400) towards the cost of the panels
How Much Can You Earn From Selling Solar Electricity to the Grid?
The amount you earn depends on how much surplus electricity you generate and how much your electricity supplier pays per unit. So far, only a few suppliers have announced their rates. You can see them in the table below. We will be updating this table as more suppliers announce their solar export payment rates.
|Rank||Supplier||Payment (per kWh)||Notes|
|1||SSE Airtricity||€0.14||Rate reviewed twice yearly; credited to accounts in November and May|
|2||Pinergy||€0.135||Export rate fixed for remainder of 2022; expensive electricity import rates|
Electricity export amounts vary massively. At one extreme, a house with 2 kW of solar panels, a power diverter, a battery, and high electricity usage could have as little as 200 units of electricity export per year. On the other extreme, a house with 9 kW of solar panels and low on-site electricity usage could have 7,000 units of electricity to export.
Example: 6kW of solar panels on an Irish roof can generate about 5,500 kWh of electricity per year. If half the electricity is used on-site, and your electricity supplier offers €0.14 per kWh, then you can:
- Save €605 by producing electricity for your own needs
- Earn €385 for your exported electricity
- Benefit €990 per year in total
I’m thinking of getting solar panels. Should the export payments affect the system design?
Yes. You should design your solar energy system with the Smart Export Guarantee in mind to gain the greatest benefit from the scheme.
Firstly, get lots of panels! With the Smart Export Guarantee, you can rest assured that your surplus energy will bring you benefits. Extra panels will also future-proof your system for increased electricity demands like heat pumps and electric cars. Best of all, large solar panel systems give you the best bang for your buck. Therefore, most Irish households should be aiming for 6 kW of panels, ideally 9 kW.
If a large solar panel array is out of your budget for now, consider installing an extra-large inverter. An extra-large inverter gives you flexibility to simply “plug in” more solar panels at a later time. Give this option special consideration if you have lots of roof space.
Finally, the export payment means that batteries will not be so important going forward. This is because selling surplus power to the grid will be more convenient, simpler, and with a lower upfront cost than storing it. The exception is if you’re worried about blackouts. In that case, a blackout protection system (which requires a battery) is worth considering.
How You Will Be Paid
Solar Customers With Smart Meters
Smart meters can measure both the electricity you consume and the electricity you export to the grid. So they’re the ideal tool to make sure that you’re paid correctly for your surplus energy. That’s why the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) wants all households to get a smart meter within 4 months of installing solar. They propose that households would automatically be scheduled for smart meter installation after notifying ESB Networks of their solar panels. This is done automatically by your solar installer before installation (form NC6). Moreover, at least one supplier (Airtricity) is demanding that customers get a smart meter in order to receive any payment for exported electricity.
Requesting a Smart Meter
You can also request priority smart meter installation right now by following the steps below, according to your type of electricity meter:
Single-Tariff 24-Hour Meters
If you have single unit rate that you pay 24 hours, you can call ESB Networks on 01 698 5005 and ask to be prioritized for your smart meter installation.
Dual-Tariff Day/Night Meters
If you have day/night metering, you’ll need to contact your electricity supplier to request a smart meter. This is because traditional day/night tariffs will not be available with smart meters. Instead, you will be offered the more modern time-of-use tariffs. Therefore, you’ll need to agree on a time-of-use tariff plan with your electricity supplier before your smart meter goes in. Your electricity supplier will then request a smart meter on your behalf.
Solar Customers Without Smart Meters
The CRU is proposing that customers without smart meters be paid based on an estimate of their exported solar energy. However, the CRU are keen that estimates be only a short-term measure. Their goal is for all solar customers to get a smart meter within 4 months of going solar.
Tax Exemption on Income from Exported Electricity
The first €200 per year of exported electricity will be tax-free.
Compare Solar Panel Quotes From Ireland’s Best Installers
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Export payment for larger solar panel systems
Businesses, farms, and non-profits with larger solar panel systems (6kW+) have different rules for exporting electricity. On the plus side, they get a guaranteed rate of export payment for 15 years. However, solar panel systems in this category will not be eligible for the €2,400 grant. But they may still be eligible for other incentives.
Owners of these larger systems will get a guaranteed rate of €0.135 per unit of exported electricity, for systems installed during 2022 or 2023. The rate will fall by €0.01 each year from 2024. For example, systems installed in 2025 will get a rate of €0.125 per unit of electricity exported.
Export payments for these larger solar energy systems are expected to start from Q3 2022.