Minister Humphreys announces supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19

Just last week the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), Heather Humphreys TD, announced details on the package of supports she has put in place for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Minister Humphreys said, “I know that this is a worrying time for all businesses in Ireland and I want to assure them that my Department and agencies are working on their behalf to develop and deliver a range of supports to help them through this rapidly evolving situation.

The Minister continued, “I am hearing from many businesses that they are very concerned about their cashflow in the coming weeks. I want to reassure them that there are a number of schemes that can help them meet their short-term working capital and liquidity needs.”


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have put a range of supports in place, including:

  • A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website
  • A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.
  • The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises – (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) – are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website or through your local LEO.
  • The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the Pillar Banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to 7 years.


Minister Humphreys also highlighted the following supports for firms experiencing trading difficulties and short-term shocks:

  • The Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection and the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation will provide a joint First Responder support service through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for impacted firms, with objective of avoiding mass lay-offs and buying time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions.

Firms that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support by contacting their local Intreo Office, see

Irish Solar Energy Association welcomes publication of RESS Terms and Conditions

The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) welcomes the publication of the final terms and conditions for the first auction of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS). The first auction (RESS-1) is scheduled to take place in July this year in line with timelines set out in 2019 by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) and EirGrid.

RESS marks a historic first in offering Government support to the Irish solar industry. The support scheme will be administered through an auction mechanism. The primary goal of the scheme is to assist the installation of renewable projects in Ireland working towards the 2030 energy target of 70% renewable penetration. Successful renewable projects will be awarded a Government-backed contract for power produced enabling projects to obtain capital to begin installation.

DCCAE held a consultation on the draft RESS-1 terms and conditions in January. In its consultation response, ISEA highlighted the key issues affecting its’ members and the solar industry as; indexation, a limited solar quota, forecast curtailment and negative pricing. The final terms and conditions do not allow for indexation. Without indexation, the auction strike prices will be higher as generators price in their costs, subject to inflation, and debt providers apply conservative assumptions to size debt. These increased costs will be passed through to the PSO levy. In addition, project financers will use conservative assumptions to size their debt. Several additional factors will influence the auction price with the major consideration being grid costs; Ireland has among the highest grid specifications and associated charges in Europe.

“ISEA very much welcomes the measures proposed and the ambition of the Climate Action Plan. We are encouraged that Minister Bruton demonstrated real leadership in Climate Change and is seeking to decarbonise our economy. We are nonetheless disappointed that the terms and conditions in the initial auction for renewable energy may have unintended consequences leading to consumers paying a higher price on the PSO levy. The lack of indexation has an obvious impact on the initial price bid in the auction for wind and solar. Other uncertainties in the auction are likely to lead to a higher price as bidder’s price in uncertainty such as DUOS and TUOS charges, negative pricing, curtailment and local authority rates.” – David Maguire, Chairman ISEA

RESS-1 will afford a 10% allocation for solar projects; this will result in solar comprising circa 2% of the total wind energy currently on the system. In order to successfully diversify the electricity network, technology specific auctions are required. This approach has already been successfully applied in the German market. As of 2019, 1500 megawatts (MW) of solar projects are ready for installation in Ireland.

Globally, solar energy power prices are breaking records and over the past ten years the cost of solar PV has decreased by 80% while the technology has improved. It is imperative that solar PV is fully considered as a viable alternative to wind. A diverse energy mix is the key to decarbonisation and ensuring Ireland has a secure and robust electricity network.

Currently, RESS is the only policy measure in place to support large scale renewable deployment in Ireland. Through its implementation, RESS sends positive signals to industry and will lead to increased investment in Ireland. However, the current proposals for RESS-1 will result in the largest projects receiving support. Future auctions must take place in a timely manner, providing certainty for market participants and support for projects of all sizes.

Veolia help Group Water Scheme launch solar energy project

Polecat Springs Group Water Scheme (GWS), working with Veolia, has become the first Group Water Scheme to use renewable energy to directly power its water treatment plant. Located near Elphin, County Roscommon, the site will be able to reduce energy costs by 70%, and cut carbon emissions, following the launch of a new solar panel project. The photovoltaic (PV) system will directly help the environment by reducing CO2 emissions and enable the local community to benefit from water treatment cost savings.


Polecat Springs GWS supplies water to rural properties covering 80 square kilometres stretching from Elphin Town northwards to Carrick on Shannon and from Ballinameen eastwards to the River Shannon and is operated as a community co-operative. Installation of the new solar panels means electricity, which was previously drawn from the National Grid, will now be used to power the various stages of the water treatment process.


The solar panels were chosen as they provided the best solution due to the location of the site and the amount of electricity required. In addition, there is also the future possibility to integrate battery storage at the site, which has the potential to make the water treatment plant 100% self-sufficient.


Operated under a contract by Veolia, the project has been supported by the Federation Of Group Water Schemes and been backed by a Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland grant covering 50% of the investment. The resultant energy cost savings will enable the project to pay for itself within six years, and the project was installed by Veolia, Clár ICH and Eco Smart.


Joe Higgins, Regional Director, Veolia added: “While developments similar to the one at Polecat Springs have been done at a municipal level, this is the first GWS that is using sustainable energy to power its water treatment plant operations. Veolia is delighted to have been involved in the project and we hope that more water schemes will invest in sustainable energy in the future.”


Eugene Cummins, Chief Executive, Roscommon County Council said: “It is great to see the community around Polecat Springs investing in a more sustainable future that will see significant savings in energy and will contribute in a very positive way to climate change at a local level. This community initiative is an example to all and hopefully other schemes and communities will follow the example set by the Polecat Springs Group Water Scheme”


The Group Water Schemes’ Programme was introduced in 1962 to provide grant aid to rural communities for the construction of water distribution systems from local water sources. Communities set up voluntary co-operative structures known as Group Water Schemes to privately manage these water systems, with operating costs funded through contributions from Group members and Central Government subsidies.



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