Across the country, homes and businesses are feeling the pinch of rising energy costs.
While the 2023 Budget introduced several measures aimed at alleviating the impact of spiralling heating and electricity bills — including €600 in energy credits for every household — there is still a palpable sense of fear and uncertainty about what’s to come as the cold winter months approach.
In this article, we explore the impact that the current energy crisis is having on Irish businesses and those working from home.
We also look at solar energy as a sustainable, affordable solution and outline the financial support available for those wishing to upgrade.
All businesses rely on electricity to operate — some more than others — but all are feeling the pinch to varying degrees. Many are absorbing as much of the cost as they can and reluctantly passing the rest on to their customers. For some, there is a very real possibility that they will not survive the winter if costs continue to rise.
According to Dermot O’Brien, general manager of Shannonside Galvanising, the company is paying “five times what it did a year ago for energy“. To make matters worse, if their gas supply is cut off for a couple of days, it would take them several weeks to get back up and running.
O’Brien’s fears are echoed by Padraig O’Connell, managing director of CGI Food Park, whose cold storage facilities use up to 27,000 units of electricity a day.
According to O’Connell, due to a lack of wind and a surge in gas prices, their daily energy costs have jumped from around €9000 a day to over €14,000 a day — and that is before the winter months have even begun. Like Shannonside Galvanising, CGI Food Park has had to resort to passing some of the costs onto their customers in the form of an energy surcharge.
Because companies like CGI Food Park form part of the Irish food supply chain, the increase in energy costs has a domino effect that ultimately hits consumers where it hurts —their wallets.
Those working from home are also feeling the effects of the crisis, with high energy bills driving many to return to the office, a concept looked at in a recent article in Business Plus – “working in a heated, comfortable office might be the answer to many people’s problems as they try to bring down the cost of running their home during the colder months.”
In addition to rising costs, there is also the threat of blackouts to contend with over the winter months as supply struggles to meet demand.
Both Ireland’s energy regulator (the CRU) and the operator of the country’s national electricity grid (Eirgrid), have expressed concerns about this, mainly due to an insufficient number of generators and gas supply shortages due to the war in Ukraine.
As a result of advances in technology in recent years, solar has become a significantly more viable and efficient source of sustainable energy in Ireland.
The primary benefits of solar power include:
Unlike fossil fuels, solar is a truly renewable source of energy that is not going to run out for another, oh, 5 billion years or so.
A solar energy system generally needs to be cleaned only once a year and requires much less maintenance than its wind or water counterparts.
Because there are no moving parts, you can expect very little (if any) wear and tear.
Generating electricity with solar panels can significantly reduce your electricity bills, particularly for medium to large businesses.
In addition, excess energy can be stored by advanced solar batteries and sold to power companies.
Solar energy has a wide range of practical uses and applications.
Not only can it be used to generate heat as well as electricity, but it can also power satellites orbiting the earth, treat water in areas without access to a clean water supply, and produce electricity in places that are not connected to the national grid.
Yes, there is a Solar Electricity Grant available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). This once-off grant helps to cover the purchase and installation costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for your home.
As a result of the availability of this grant, as well as a reduction in installation costs, solar panels are fast becoming the primary source of energy for many homes across Ireland.
To find out if you qualify for a grant, check the eligibility criteria here.
Getting a grant is a fairly straightforward process.
After registering your details on the SEAI application portal, you will be guided through the process of creating a new Solar PV claim. For this, you will need to enter your MPRN, the size of your system, and the property details.
Finally, you will conduct a search for an SEAI-registered company, choose one that you would like to carry out the installation and enter your payment details so you can receive the grant payment. SEAI will contact your preferred company who will then contact you to arrange the installation.
Remote workers can avail of a range of supports to make their homes more energy-efficient and reduce their bills. In February 2022, the Government increased the value of several home energy grants, including heat pump systems, attic and cavity wall insulation, and internal and external wall insulation.
You can find out more and apply for a home energy grant here.
Alternative Energy Ireland is a 100% Irish-owned company that has been bringing renewable energy to homes and businesses across Ireland since 2007.
We pride ourselves on the expertise, workmanship and customer care delivered by our team and the excellent reputation we have built over the years.
Amidst the doom and gloom of the climate crisis, we offer practical and realistic solutions to help you combat the cost of living crisis while at the same time making a difference in the fight against climate change.
Get in touch today to explore our broad range of renewable energy products — including solar, heat and ventilation systems — and let us help you cut down on your energy bills in the greenest way possible.
Our friendly, experienced team is on hand to answer all your questions and help you get started on your renewable journey!