IRISH HOMEOWNERS are to be given an opportunity to generate their own electricity and sell excess power back into the national grid under a new sustainable energy programme.
The grant-aided scheme will see electricity produced by individuals using renewable technologies such as small scale wind turbines and solar panels.
The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources believes the programme will reduce energy costs and decrease dependency on imported fuels.
The scheme will initially be conducted on a trial basis with a number of grants covering half the start-up cost being made available through Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).
The department will provide €2 million in funding for the scheme, which will also feature studies on emissions savings. Regulations introduced last year state that domestic wind turbines do not require planning permission.
A department spokeswoman said she understood that small domestic turbines would not break guidelines on noise pollution.
Full details of a wider scheme will be revealed during the summer.
Announcing the programme yesterday, Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan said significant power and financial savings were possible.
"We know from international experience that microgeneration can provide a sustainable, reliable and affordable alternative to the traditional methods of power generation. It is time to provide such an alternative here. Until now we have been making strides in terms of large-scale renewable energy, which will impact on power generation at a national level.
"With microgeneration, the end user can reap the benefits of renewable energy sources while helping to meet Ireland's energy challenge," Mr Ryan said.
The scheme follows a change in regulations last year which now permits people to sell electricity back into the national energy grid. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said it hopes the programme will provide the groundwork for consideration of a set feed-in price to the national grid.
The scheme was unveiled at the SEI Energy Show 2008, which began at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin. More than 150 exhibitors are taking part in the event, which is expected to generate some ¬30 million in business for the sustainable energy sector.
The theme of this year's show is Meeting Ireland's Energy Challenge, and both national and international experts will take part in discussions on the design and construction of energy efficient buildings, renewable energy solutions and energy management.
SEI chief executive David Taylor said the development of sustainable energy will help Ireland to meet its energy targets and cut its dependency on imported fossil fuels.
The Irish Times