FORMER West Cork TD Michael McCarthy has criticised Minister Denis Naughten’s lack of progress on solar energy policy.
The Dunmanway native, who is now chief executive of the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA), made his comments after the inclusion of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) technology in a public consultation launched recently into the new Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS).
However, the former Labour deputy also criticised the Minister for not publishing a more advanced document, and specifically referred to what he called his ‘flawed’ proposal for a technology-neutral auction process.
‘We cautiously welcome the broad approach outlined by Minister Naughten for a new Renewable Energy Support Scheme,’ Mr McCarthy said. ‘It is the first time ever that direct policy support from government for solar has been forthcoming, and in particular we are pleased to see an emphasis on community involvement, consumer value and competitive auctions,’ he said.
‘However, given that its publication has been repeatedly delayed, we are disappointed that the Minister’s overall approach was not more advanced at this late stage,’ he added. It lacks clarity, detail and ambition, he claimed. Mr McCarthy said the case for solar is clearer than ever. ‘Solar is now the most invested-in technology across the world and the cheapest to deploy after onshore wind in Ireland. It can also be constructed and installed a lot quicker than any other form of renewable technology.’
Solar holds the key to Ireland’s capacity to meet its 2020 targets, he said. ‘As things stand, Ireland is one of only two EU member states which are going to miss those targets, triggering millions of euro in financial sanctions on the Irish taxpayer. It is widely acknowledged that solar is the only technology that can help us bridge the shortfall.’
Mr McCarthy said the devil is in the detail, and ‘on this occasion, the detail falls short.’