Microgeneration Ireland - How Does It Work?

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Microgeneration refers to the small scale generation of electricity from renewable sources by households or business. Any excess energy produced can then be sold back into the national grid reducing household energy costs. Read our guide to microgeneration in Ireland to learn how it works, what you need to start generating your own electricity, and the rates energy companies are offering for microgenerated electricity.

What Is Microgeneration?

Put simply, microgeneration refers to the small scale production of electricity to offset or meet the energy needs of an individual home or business.

Microgeneration aims to use renewable sources of energy to produce small amounts of electricity that can either be used by the home or business owner, stored in a battery for later use, or sold back into the national grid.

Traditional power plants, on the other hand, rely on fossil fuels such as oil or gas to produce electricity on a large scale in order to meet the needs of a large population or country.

What Are The Sources of Microgenerated Electricity In Ireland?

The most common sources of microgenerated electricity in Ireland are the following:

  1. Solar Panels - The most common source of microgenerated electricity in Ireland, solar PV panels are the distinctive black panels you often see placed on rooftops. They generate electricity during daylight hours, with 75% being produced from May to September, as these are the months of the year with the most hours of sunshine.
  2. Micro-wind Turbines - Micro-wind turbines work in exactly the same way as their large scale equivalents by harnessing the flow of wind to generate electricity. Due to their small size, they are suitable for home and business owners.
  3. Micro-water Generators - Micro-water generators use the flow of water to generate electricity, often placed in rivers, where the flow of the river is used to drive a turbine or pump which converts the flow into energy. These are more suitable for large property owners such as farmers who have access to rivers on thier land.
  4. Micro-renewable combined heat and power (CHP) - Micro-combined heat and power captures the heat generated by electricity production to create on-site heat and power at the same time. They are often used by industries with large heat demands, such as hotels and swimming pools.

Why Is Microgeneration Important For Ireland?

As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Ireland has committed to developing and implementing national climate action plans that outline how it will contribute to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023 sets out action to reduce overall national emissions by 51% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

Large scale investment in renewable energy along with the promotion of microgeneration are key to the government's plan to reduce overall carbon emissions, and the Micro-Generation Support Scheme (MSS) aims to incentivise home and business owners to invest in microgenerated energy.

What Do I Need for The Micro-Generation Support Scheme?

Let's have a look at what you need to apply for and avail of The Micro-Generation Support Scheme. Soon you'll have your own little power station set up at home! 

Solar Panels

To avail of the Micro-Generation Support Scheme, you first need to have solar panels installed. There is no minimum required, but anything less than four probably won't produce any excess energy.

If you don’t already have solar panels installed, read our guide to applying for a SEAI grant in 2024.

The SEAI grant is aimed at helping people who simply want to install solar panels on their property to help reduce their energy costs, whereas the Micro-Generation Support Scheme assists people who want to sell excess energy back to their provider.

As of May 2024, the scheme is only available to those with solar panels and not those using micro-wind or micro-hydro power generators.

  1. Following this, you must inform the ESB that you are installing solar panels by using a NC6 form. 
  2. It is also important to enquire if your energy supplier offers a tariff for microgenerated electricity.
  3. Once your solar panels have been installed, they will start producing electricity and thus lowering your overall electricity bills depending on how much energy is produced by them.
  4. When the amount of electricity produced by the panels exceeds that used by your home, you can sell the excess back into the national grid through your energy provider.

Smart Meter

To avail of the Micro-Generation Support Scheme it is also necessary to have a smart meter installed. This is outlined by the CRU in their guidelines for microgeneration in Ireland.

The smart meter is necessary as it allows your supplier to accurately measure the excess output of energy from your home, ensuring that you receive an accurate payment for the energy you are exporting.

While the ESB are in the process of replacing traditional credit meters with smart meters throughout Ireland, if you do not yet have a smart meter installed and would like to avail of the scheme, contact the ESB directly to arrange for an instillation.

Additional Requirements

To apply for the Microgeneration Support Scheme, your home must:

  • Have solar panels installed
  • Have been built before 2021
  • Have a Meter Point Registration Number (MPRN)
  • Be registered with an electricity supplier
  • Be generating less than 6kW of electricity

How Much Can I Earn Through Microgeneration?

A typical residential instillation can aim to export between 10% to 40% of microgenerated energy, meaning a return of between €100 to €300 in energy credits.

Having said that, it’s difficult to give an estimate on the amount you could earn per year through microgeneration and these figures are a broad estimate.

Variable factors including the size of your solar installation, days of sunlight per year and your own level of energy consumption will ultimately dictate how much you could earn.

What Rates Do Different Companies Offer for Microgeneration?

The rates offered by energy companies can vary, but most will offer a competitive price. You will often see these prices described as a 'feed-in tariff' which simply refers to the rate the energy provider will pay for each excess kWh you produce. 

As of May 2024, both SSE Airtricty and Energia offer the highest price for excess microgenerated electricity at 24 cents per kWh.

Yuno Energy, the newest provider to enter the Irish market, offer the lowest rate at 15.89 cents per kWh.

You Can Only Sell To Your Energy Provider

It is also worth noting that you can't sell your excess energy to the 'highest bidder'. You can only sell to your own energy provider, so if they happen to offer a lower rate than some other providers, you would need to switch provider completely to avail of thier higher rate.

Below you will find a breakdown of the price paid for microgenerated electricity by some of Ireland’s largest energy providers.

Price Per kWh Offered By Irish Energy Suppliers
SupplierPrice per kWh
SSE Airtricity24 cents
Energia24 cents
Flogas22 cents
Electric Ireland21 cents
Bord Gais Energy18.5 cents
Yuno Energy15.89 cents

These prices are relevant as of May 2024 and are subject to supplier price changes.

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Is Microgeneration Worth Investing In?

The cost benefit ratio as to whether it’s worth investing in microgeneration is difficult to predict, given the number of variable factors that will decide how much it benefits you in the long term.

While it’s important to take note of the potential variables, there are a number of advantages to investing in microgeneration in Ireland.

Advantages

  • It can be a steady source of income that helps you cut down on your electricity bills.
  • You can save money by selling excess energy back to your energy provider.
  • It is a more environmentally friendly means of generating energy and reduces your carbon footprint.
  • It offers you an insight into your energy consumption needs through your smart meter.

Disadvantages

  • The initial cost of installing a microgenerator such as solar panels can be very expensive.
  • You must purchase and sell your energy to the same supplier, who may not offer a competitive rate.
  • Unpredictable weather and dark winters may impact your ability to generate excess electricity.
  • The rate of purchase for exported energy may change depending on government policy or supplier rate changes.

If you are interested in learning more about microgeneration in Ireland and Ireland’s objectives towards reducing its carbon emissions, check out our environment page here at Selectra.ie and see what actions you can take towards creating cleaner and more sustainable energy for you. 

Want to know more about solar panels? From how they work, to pricing and maintenance, have a look at some of our articles and see how solar energy could be the future of renewable energy in Ireland!

The services and products mentioned on this website may only represent a small selection of the options available to you. Selectra encourages you to carry out your own research and seek advice if necessary before making any decisions. We may receive commission from selected partner providers on sales of some products and/or services mentioned within this website. Our website is free to use, and the commission we receive does not affect our opinion or the information we provide.

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