Ireland installed 505 MW of photovoltaics in 2023

Ireland’s solar PV capacity has almost doubled in the space of a year, largely driven by utility-scale projects of 5 MW or more. In 2023, the country had 349 MW of commercial-scale solar PV across seven projects, but this has since increased to 594 MW across 13 installations.

A new report by the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) describes the country’s surge in utility-scale solar projects as “remarkable.” The growth has contributed to Ireland’s overall increase in solar capacity, from 680 MW in 2023 to 1,185 MW today.

The expansion in solar capacity is enough to annually power 280,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by 270,000 tons. This surge in capacity has not just been driven by large utility-scale projects, however.

Other areas, such as domestic rooftop solar, commercial, and smaller utility-scale PV (1 MW to 5 MW), have also experienced rapid growth over the past year. Smaller utility-scale project capacity has more than doubled in the past year, from 22 MW across five projects to 49 MW across 11.

Small and domestic solar is on the rise also. Ireland now has more than 94,000 households with installed solar – an increase of 20,000 from 2023. Incentives such as value-added tax (VAT) exemptions and installation grants have driven the adoption of residential solar.

Since the introduction of the Microgeneration Support Scheme in 2022, more than 16,000 homes have received grants to install solar panels. The scheme’s subsequent expansion to businesses resulted in more than 1,700 businesses getting grants.

Overall, the ISEA projects further growth over the next year. Along with Ireland’s distribution system operator (DSO), ESB Networks, it said it expects almost 1,600 MW to be connected to the grid by the end of this year, with 400 MW planned for the next six months.

Ireland is targeting 8 GW of installed solar capacity by the end of 2030. In February of this year, it surpassed 1 GW. The ISEA believes the country can meet its 2030 targets if current pipelines are realized.

“With a pipeline which includes approximately 11 GW of utility-scale projects, one million suitable residential rooftops, and around 2,700 commercial and industrial projects either connected or in the process of connecting to the system, Ireland can meet its 2030 solar energy targets,” the organization said in its most recent report.

Blathnaid O’Dea,