From Declan Breathnach, TD  24th May 2016

573. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to outline the effect of the number of solar energy companies seeking to lease lands for energy production on the basic payment scheme in future.[11684/16]

From Minister Dennis Naughton Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Solar has the potential to contribute to meeting Ireland’s renewable energy objectives and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to facilitate the development of solar energy projects. This builds on the Energy White Paper published in December 2015 and recognises that solar has the potential to provide a community dividend, thereby also enhancing citizen participation in Ireland’s energy future.

It is widely recognised that solar PV technology has become more cost competitive for electricity generation, not only compared with other renewables but also compared with conventional forms of generation. The deployment of solar PV is therefore one of the technologies being considered in the context of on-going work to develop a new support scheme for renewable electricity generation.

Before a final decision is taken on introducing a new support scheme – which may include support for solar PV – my Department will run a public consultation, which will give all interested parties an opportunity to participate in the development of the scheme. Details of the next public consultation will be advertised on the Department’s website .

Before a new renewable electricity support scheme can be introduced it will need to be compliant with EU State aid rules and compatible with any other EU support schemes that project participants might be benefitting from. The Basic Payment Scheme is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and his Department which administers it.