Joe O’Brien Welcomes Expanded Planning Exemptions for Solar Panels

7th October, 2022

Revised planning exemptions for the installation of solar panels have today (7th October) been signed into law with changes to take immediate effect. This now means that unlimited numbers of solar panels can be installed on houses, farm buildings, schools, community centres and a range of non-domestic buildings across Ireland without planning permission, with certain restrictions near airports and hospitals with helipads.

Welcoming the signing of the exemptions, Joe O’Brien said:

I am delighted to see these exemptions finally signed into law with immediate effect. This will remove unnecessary costs and complexity that has come with installing solar panels until now. The demand for homegrown, renewable energy has never been so high, given the current fossil fuel crisis. Solar power makes sense. It works well in our Irish climate, it saves money, has a short payback time and it provides secure energy for homes and businesses.”

The exemptions come on the back of a bill brought to the Seanad by the Green Party in June 2021.

These planning exemptions were a key action under the Climate Action Plan introduced by the Green Party and will significantly accelerate our switch to renewable energy. The measures support key government policies on energy, our transition to net zero and will help us to achieve our EU renewable energy targets.”

This will be very positive news for the many people in Fingal who have contacted me about the need to ease restrictions on rooftop solar. Until today, farmers, schools and communities had to go through a costly and complicated planning process to install solar panels to make their own electricity. As of today, that is no longer the case. This will help reduce bills as homes and business move away from costly fossil fuel-based systems. Costs can be further reduced through payments which have been recently introduced for homes and businesses that feed excess renewable energy into the grid.”

The new regulations underwent the Strategic Environmental Assessment process, and the environmental report and draft regulations were published for a 4-week public consultation.

A recent report from the MaREI research centre at University College Cork identified that 1 million homes have the potential for six solar panels. The report found a typical household in Dublin with six (2.4 kW) solar panels could generate over one third of their annual electricity and save €380 a year in electricity bills, with the system paying back for itself in 7 years.

Report: Quantifying the potential for rooftop solar photovoltaic in Ireland