A bright future for solar powerMon, Jan 25, 2016, 01:05 Sir, – In response to John FitzGerald, nobody can argue with the view that early adopters of new technology can pay a high price (“Early adopters can pay a heavy price”, January 12th).
However, in the case of solar photovoltaic cells (PV), Ireland is not an early adopter.
Solar PV, having being deployed across Europe for over 20 years, and recently in China, Japan, the US and Australia, can hardly be called a new technology. Solar PV is already used all around us, to run everyday items such as calculators, public parking meters and road traffic signs.
Ireland cannot be accused of early mover advantage on solar PV, with less than five megawatts installed and no policy supports in place. We have one of the lowest deployment levels of solar PV in Europe. The time is right to support solar PV as costs have decreased by 80 per cent in the last 10 years, sunlight levels in Ireland are 78 per cent of those in France, and the cost of solar PV has reached and surpassed retail price parity in many markets. While cost reduction has been dramatic, since 2013 the cost reductions have slowed significantly to more modest levels.
Today, the cost of supporting renewables in Ireland, (mainly wind) is less than 1.4 per cent of the average domestic bill. The UK installed 8,000 megawatts of solar PV in the last five years at a cost of less than 0.7 per cent of electricity bills, therefore supporting solar PV in Ireland is not going to push the cost of renewables to anywhere near a third of anybody’s household bill.
Solar PV is a stable, easily deployed and predictable technology that is fast approaching the levelised retail cost of electricity. It is also complementary to wind as it produces more electricity on brighter and less windy days. Indeed, Ireland has already installed a lot of solar thermal (hot water) systems over the last few years, which are costlier and more complex to install than solar PV.
By supporting solar PV, Ireland can benefit from late mover advantage to meet our renewable energy targets and to move us away from our overdependence on imported energy, which is the highest in Europe at 85 per cent.
A recent report by KPMG stated that by introducing support for solar in 2017, the sector would deliver and sustain over 7,300 direct jobs, create over €0.8 billion in tax revenue, add €2 billion in gross value added to the economy (equivalent to €3 for every €1 of support). All for the cost of less than 1 per cent on the consumer bill. –
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