The Irish government has drafted a proposal that would exempt domestic and some non-domestic solar installations from planning permission, in order to make solar installation shorter and simpler, bringing the nation in line with the EU Solar Rooftops Initiative.

The Irish Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has published proposed revisions to planning regulations to allow houses to install solar panels on their roofs without planning permission and regardless of location.  

The decision aims to bring Ireland into line with the EU Solar Rooftops Initiative by making solar rooftop installation shorter and simpler. The proposals also pertain to certain non-domestic buildings, such as community and educational buildings, places of worship, health buildings, libraries and farms. 

“These draft regulations will help facilitate the rollout of rooftop solar energy across the country,” said Minister of State for Planning and Local Government Peter Burke. “They will enable individuals, communities, businesses and farms to play their part in creating a future fuelled by renewable energy and acting against climate change. They will help people and businesses to reduce their energy bills and increase Ireland’s energy security, a major challenge given developments in Europe and the need to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels.”

The proposals 

Under the draft proposals, solar installations will be able to cover the entire roof of a house without planning permission, except for solar safeguarding zones. Wall-mounted and free-standing solar panel installations are also exempt from the requirement of obtaining planning permission, subject to a 25-square-meter area limit. 

“Houses, regardless of location, will soon be able to install solar panels on their roofs without any requirement for planning permission, which I know will be very welcome to many homeowners,” said Burke. “Draft proposals for community/educational/religious buildings will also give institutions such as schools a greater opportunity to reduce their energy bills. By proposing these increased exemptions, we are bringing exemptions into line with our renewables ambitions and helping people to play their part in climate action and to reduce their energy bills.”

The move will support Ireland’s target of generating up to 380 MW of solar microgeneration (approximately 1 million panels) as part of the country’s overall target of 2.5 GW of solar by 2030. 

In state-owned Eirgrid‘s “Shaping our electricity futurereport, published in November 2021, the volume of small-scale, household and business solar arrays needed this decade was revised up from an initial estimate of 200 MW to 400 MW for the whole island, to 500 MW in EU member state Ireland and 100 MW in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

The report stated that Ireland currently draws on renewables for around 40% of its electricity. It said the 70% target for 2030 is a minimum ambition, and could ramp up to 80%.

As part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process, a public consultation is now open and will run until July 13.