Solar PV Grant For Irish Homes Welcomed

Solar PV Grant With Activ8 Solar Energies & SSE Airtricity

It’s with great pleasure that we welcome the grant announced today by the SEAI. As one of the leading advocates of solar PV in Ireland we have seen many false dawns in previous years. We have sat on many boards discussing the benefits and possible pitfalls of introducing an incentive, as well as speaking at solar events sharing our experience in other markets and countries. Upon Minister Naughten’s announcement earlier this year, the hope was this would not be a false dawn, and as we worked as advisors to the SEAI on the format of the grant, it’s great to see the hard work pay off today.

In brief the grant will work as follows:

Without Battery (Max €1,400)
€700 per kWp up to and capped at 2kWp

With Battery (Max €3,800)
€700 per kWp up to and capped at 4kWp Solar
+
€1000 for battery once sized greater than 2kWhrs

Conditions:

- Buildings built and occupied before 2011
- Post-works BER required
- PV works must be installed after July 31st 2018
- Systems must be grid tied
- Grant is a one-off payment
- 2-year pilot scheme reviewed every 6 months

This theme is all about self-consumption and practicality. Regarding self-consumption, we have found that 2kWp systems can achieve approximately 80% usage of all energy generated, brought close to 100% with battery storage or hot water diverts. By encouraging self-consumption, it means the best value is being obtained by the customer. Regarding practicality, there are schemes around the world still being administered and staffed long after the scheme has closed, hence we welcome the upfront one-off grant payment. This allows for the quick implementation of the scheme and eliminates the grandfather costs when the pilot ends.

We would like to commend the SEAI on their speedy response to Minister Naughten’s call to action. These schemes take a lot of planning and forethought, and the expedited manner in which the members of the SEAI brought this pilot about is a credit to them as an organisation.

Finally, we would like to give credit to our partners at SSE Airtricity for their foresight in all things renewable. SSE Airtricity’s investment in Activ8 further reaffirms their position as the leading supplier of renewable energy to Irish households.

Through our partnership, we are rolling out the following offer to customers -

All current, and new, SSE Airtricity customers who purchase a system from Activ8 will receive €250 cashback from Activ8 on point of install.

Looking at today's announcement, our CEO Ciaran Marron concluded with:
"Having spent the last 12 years in the solar industry, it is not lost on me that we are exactly 12 years away from 2030, a monumental year in our climate change efforts. The announcement today shows our commitment as a country towards our goals in this regard".

For more information on Solar PV and how to avail of the grant, click here.


Stumbling Towards Solar PV Incentives In Ireland

As a key stakeholder in the Irish Solar Industry, this week is a very interesting one indeed.

Today I travel to a number of meetings with many like-minded people within my industry, to see if we can form a strong, stable and exciting incentive to help us move past the label of Europe’s solar laggards.

Tomorrow I travel to Munich, to Intersolar 2018, where I can discuss with our peers in Europe, suppliers and engineers alike on the deemed successes of solar throughout the continent in the past and the products and strategies of the future.

To see where our industry sits at this moment in time we should see the successes achieved both by us and by our nearest neighbours – Northern Ireland. SEAI have done a great job spreading the word of sustainability throughout Ireland, with grants for almost every useful upgrading measure available. To this end, energy conservation and renewable production has almost become glamorous! You need look no further than Diarmuid Gavin on a Sunday afternoon on RTE to realise that triple glazing, insulation and heatpumps are the fashionable things to go for. When it comes to Solar Thermal, SEAI have truly done their part also. We have upgraded thousands of homes through the grant scheme, and thousands of others simply through the knock on effect of testimonials, advocating the effectiveness of established solar homes. Great products, services and savings are infectious, but sometimes need a push to get over the hump of inertia. In this context, Northern Ireland have taken an approach to incentivise Solar PV. From simply driving the road from Dundalk to Castleblayney, you can see the effects from one incentivised region to another.

For those not familiar with the N53, it turns into the A37 (NI) for 5.4 kilometres. As you drive this small stretch of road, you can see what a difference the PV incentive has made. You will see both social and private housing with systems installed, as well as numerous businesses from petrol stations to bars and shops. All reducing the electricity purchased from the grid, saving money and doing their bit for the environment. Then as you move further down the road onto the N53 again you can see domestic customers availing of solar thermal again in the Republic.

A small PV incentive, similar to that which homeowners can obtain for solar thermal in Ireland would put us in a position to catch up with our European counterparts in the renewable stakes. We already have the governing body in place, along with mechanisms to roll this out extremely efficiently. We have checks in place for trade specific qualifications and insurances to ensure the customer is using a properly vetted company. We already have the vehicles in place to do quality insurance inspections to ensure only high quality installers remain on this grant list. We even have an efficient way of trading carbon credits which could also subsidise installation costs in place. Leaving us with 2 roadblocks;

  1. The lack of an incentive in place for solar PV
  2. The lack of planning foresight for Solar PV, as we are still working from exemptions with solar thermal in mind

Change is difficult. Enacting mass change is harder again. Indecision, plodding progress and fear of change is what has us as Europe’s laggards. On a technology that has proven itself throughout European countries for over a decade now. This stumbling progress to date, has left us second from bottom on a list produced by Europe’s largest NGO coalition Climate Action Network (CAN) on Monday just past (18th June 2018) of countries and their progress toward their 2020 goals. However, the aforementioned structures and processes that we already have in place, allows me to look at the current solar landscape and our ability to move forward with solar PV with positivity.

Ciaran Marron
CEO


Activ8 Solar Energies Exclusive Distribution Agreement with ESDEC BV

Esdec, a leader in innovative rooftop mounting systems for photovoltaic installations, entered into an exclusive distributor agreement with Activ8 Energies, based upon our solar experience here in Ireland and Northern Ireland over the last 13+ years. With this agreement, Esdec will further extend the availability of its patented ClickFit and FlatFix Fusion systems for rooftop PV installations into the Irish and Northern Irish market.

Irish Solar PV Market

Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, this is an exciting development, given the strong growth of the Irish solar PV market in line with commercial interest in the renewable technology alongside the installation of solar PV panels on new housing developments across Ireland. With our industry leading reputation, this is a great partnership for both ourselves and ESDEC.
The technology that ESDEC can bring to the Irish market, through Activ8 Solar Energies, includes both their ClickFit and FlatFix Fusion systems for rooftop PV installations. With this, the innovative patented designs, which are MCS approved, bring advantages such as:

  • No drilling of tiles
  • No drilling of truss
  • No need for noggins or bridging
  • Approved by major Irish tile manufacturers
  • Approved by major Irish truss manufacturers

Upon the completion of the distributor agreement, both companies looked forward to 2017 with excitement.

"The addition of Activ8 Energies as one of the pioneers of the young and fast growing Irish PV market adds valuable experience and capabilities to our sales network for Irish installation companies, dealing with a strongly increasing demand of PV installations for homeowners, business enterprises and public entities," said Christian Bongartz, Business Development Manager Europe at Esdec. “Working with an experienced and well-respected distributor like Activ8 Energies allows us to deliver our innovative mounting systems effectively into the Irish market, giving valuable support to architects and construction companies already during the design phase of their projects.”

“This development further cements our reputation for innovation within the Irish solar industry here at Activ8 Solar Energies” said Ciaran Marron, CEO Activ8 Solar Energies. “We’ve always believed that the best way to grow the Irish solar market here in Ireland was to offer our customers the very best products and services. With this partnership, we’ve further improved our Solar PV offering to developers, businesses and homeowners and once again, made the solar installation process more efficient”.

About Esdec

Esdec BV is a leading Dutch manufacturer of professional and innovative solar panel mounting systems called ClickFit and FlatFix. Both ClickFit and FlatFix are fast and easy to install, are durable and are sold with a unique 20 year warranty. Their products have been extensively tested by recognized testing institutes, such as DNW (wind tunnel), BRE, and are, amongst others, certified according to the Dutch Building Decree and the MCS012 by NQA. Since the establishment of Esdec BV in 2004, more than four million solar panels with a combined capacity of > 1GWp have been installed on ClickFit and FlatFix systems.

For more information, visit www.esdec.com

Visit our Solar PV section for more information, or depending on your needs, visit our new wholesale section either.


Solar Case Study: An 'Eco Pub' Uses Activ8

Andy's Bar & Restaurant Use Activ8 For Solar During Their Energy Efficiency Improvements

Andy's Bar & Restaurant in Monaghan Town featured in the Irish Independent as one of Ireland's first 'eco pubs'. It was great to see the family owned establishment getting national media attention given their environmental efforts in the running of their business. Something we here at Activ8 Solar Energies got to see up close and personal when we installed the solar thermal system on the roof of their premises in early 2016.

Solar panels on Andy's Bar & Restaurant roof
A dreary installation day in February did nothing to curb the enthusiasm of staff and their energy efficiency and environmental efforts.

Energy efficiency through solar and more

The family began their energy efficiency drive after the Monaghan premises was destroyed in a fire. With support from the SEAI and the cross-border Sustainable Together through Environmental Management (STEM) project. The Redmond family began their work by installing better insulation, it was at this point, that they contacted us here in Activ8 Solar Energies in regards to installing a solar thermal energy system to help reduce their heating bills and increase efficiency in this part of their business.

Their solar thermal energy system was installed on the roof of the premises after our standard technical survey that matched system specification with business need while factoring in the relevant conditions and circumstances. The system consists of 9 Atlas Solar Thermal Collectors, a system substantially larger than our standard domestic system. We pride ourselves on fitting the relevant system for our customers needs and the accuracy to which we can do this.

This was followed by other internal efficiencies, which included replacing glass doors on fridges with more energy efficient efficient doors, showing the extent to which Seán Redmond and his team were willing to go to ensure they continued their efforts to make Andy's Bar & Restaurant a more energy efficient, environmentally friendly business. Too many people look toward the government and its agencies for complete project leadership in this area. This case study is an outstanding example of how a business can improve business efficiency, reduce costs through an environmentally driven efficiency project. It really is a win-win situation.


Using Recent UK Renewable Developments as an Irish Solar Case Study

Using the UK as a Case Study for Irish Renewables

Although we may not agree with everything that is done across the Irish Sea, we have to admire the UK's commitment to renewable energy production. Through our sister company, Solar NI, we have been able to play a small part in the recently released figures that showed renewable energy accounting for more energy production than coal, for the first time in history.

The UK are no different to ourselves, in relation to clean energy production targets in 2020 and follow up targets in 2030 arising from the COP21 agreement in Paris of last year. What is different, is the highly incentivised subsidy support in the UK driving technologies such as solar into the mainstream in the past 10 years through numerous government driven schemes. Combine these subsidies with the reduced cost of solar pv and you have an astoundingly competitive electricity and energy production option, in your own home. For free!

With renewables playing such an important role in 2015, out-performing coal in the process, recent news surrounding the future cost of solar and wind in comparison to nuclear has had a direct impact on the development of the Hinkley Plant in the UK. A recent delay on its go ahead has shown that the predictions for renewables combined with their present efficiency has really started to impact the decision making processes at the very top. An unpublished government report in the UK has calculated how large-scale solar pv and wind power will be considerably cheaper to produce than nuclear by the time the aforementioned Hinkley plant is up and running. Figures revealed in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in the UK are forecasting large-scale solar power to cost between £50 and £75/MWh by 2025. Nuclear power on the other hand is expected to cost between £85 and £125/MWh by the same date. The UK government has already agreed a guaranteed purchase price of £92.50/MWh with developers of the Hinkley plant for the nuclear power produced.

This is an important development for us here in Ireland, as we look to our counterparts here in Europe for evidence of successful energy strategies. It is also important because of the electricity we import from the UK through the East West Interconnector that ultimately comes from these exact energy sources we have already discussed. In an ideal world, we would become self-sufficient through our own renewable energy infrastructure here in Ireland. The scope for which, with large-scale solar pv cheapening over time, is hopefully starting to prick a few ears at the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resourcesin Dublin. We can at least take confidence from the success of solar farms in the UK, with the proliferation of such starting to gather pace here in Ireland, a small push from the government in relation to this could really give our own national grid a real shot in the arm. But we wait and see.

On a smaller scale, Part L regulations and the renewable energy aspect of such, has seen a lot of new housing developments take advantage of solar pv to bolster their green credentials while adding value to each property also.

All solar developments in the UK should be closely watched by the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources as it provides us with a solid case study in relation to how we should really start to engage with large-scale renewable energy projects with a view to both our 2020 and 2030 targets. We here at Activ8 Solar Energies can speak from experience when we say that the Irish people have been pushing it on a smaller scale for well over a decade. Our 7,000 installations to date prove such.


New Name For Department Sees Climate Change Importance Grow in Government

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Denis Naughten said the department would be known as the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the transfer of functions from the previous Department of Environment, Community and Local Government was completed. Mr Naughten said the transfer of the environment function allowed the synergies between climate and sustainable energy policy to be fully realised.
“It brings a coherence across the various policy areas involved, and will ensure that Ireland addresses the challenges in ways that are technically feasible, cost-effective and fair in terms of Ireland’s contribution to the overall EU ambition.’’

Mr Naughten said the Government would continue to strive to protect Ireland’s energy supply, generation, security, affordability and sustainability, and to ensure Ireland complied with international energy and climate-change policies. The Minister was replying to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, the very man that opened the Activ8 Solar Energies headquarters in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan all of 7 years ago. Eamon Ryan has said including “environment’’ in the title would allow Mr Naughten in his ministerial duties to “grab the power and grow the department, to strengthen and empower it within Government’’.

We tend to agree with Mr. Ryan to the extent that not only should the word “environment” be included in the title of the department, it should be intertwined throughout each department, rather than isolated on its own. However, this move will allow Minister Naughten to approach other departments in his ministerial position with a view to discussing the impact renewable energy may have on their day-to-day operations and where improvements can be made. This can only be seen as a positive step in relation to the growth of the solar power industry in Ireland. Although steps have already been realised in this regard, with state bodies including solar pv on new builds of all descriptions, from schools to council buildings, it is important that we keep pushing the potential of solar pv for electricity generation in Ireland given our generous annual solar yield and ability to produce substantial amounts of solar electricity from solar pv systems across the country, with the highest yields experienced in the sunny South East.

Although solar isn’t the only show in town, it is important to note the ministers hesitations in relation to wind turbines. The Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources said he accepted a significant number of people had objections to wind turbines, with a view to further consultation on the technology and infrastructure. "There is an issue in relation to wind turbines, there is absolutely no doubt about that," he said. "We also have the potential rollout of solar power as well, in relation to electricity generation," he added. The latter part of this statement bodes well for solar growth in Ireland.


Activ8 Solar Energies Feature at Reception of NSAI ISO9001 Certification Event

Our General Manager Aidan Marron, along with our Installation Manager Stephen Duffy, attended the recent NSAI event where a number of companies were awarded their NSAI certificates. We were there to collect our ISO 9001 Accreditation for our Quality Management Systems. This event was used by the NSAI to showcase the direct correlation between companies who have received certification and their operating profit and growth.
We can only speak of our own experience. We would agree with the results of the study whilst also wanting to shed some light on how the process improvements involved in readying the company are what actually result in company growth and profit improvements.

We can only speak in relation to our own experience within the solar industry, but when it comes to an investment such as solar panels, we feel that customers will look towards our NSAI certification and no that they are dealing with a company that puts quality at the forefront of everything they do. Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, our ISO9001 accreditation for Quality Management Systems is proof. Proof that whatever stage a customer is at, they are involved in a process that some 7000+ customers have gone through, allowing us to refine and perfect our own processes for a better customer experience as they purchase a solar system from us.

This certification is one that we are very proud of, given that we are the only dedicated solar installer in Ireland to achieve ISO9001. Something that sets us apart from competitors and gives our customers reassurance that their investment in solar panels with Activ8 Solar Energies, is a safe investment.