As the pipeline of solar projects continues to grow in Ireland, the gap between the number of grid applications submitted and the number of planning applications submitted becomes more evident. Although progress is being made in both areas, we are currently looking at around 550 grid applications and around 90 planning applications.

The rationale for submitting grid applications first is clear, with the non-group processing approach (GPA) causing huge bottlenecks. Developers had to get grid applications for projects submitted quickly in order to achieve a good position in the queue for their respective substations.

It had been suggested to the Commission for Energy Regulation that planning permission be a requirement to have a grid application processed, but in the recent transitional measures published on 12 October this was not taken up as an option. This leaves a risk that projects successful in receiving a grid application may find themselves in a position where it is difficult to gain planning permission. This has been seen in the UK for solar projects and in Ireland for the many wind developments that are permitted but unable to receive planning.

This was one of the topics up for discussion at ISEA’s recent planning workshop held in Dublin. There was a diverse audience, which included solar developers, wind developers now looking at solar, planning and environmental consultants, and local authority planners. The main point raised at the beginning was that there is already a large pipeline of solar projects in Ireland, so perhaps engagement with local planning authorities and the solar industry could have happened earlier. But now that we are here, what can the solar industry do to help reassure planners and make sure their projects have the best chance of being approved?

Read the full blog post over on Solar Power Portal >>>