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NIROC: the financial incentive for solar PV in Northern Ireland explained

Posted by Andy Baird on 4 February 2013 at 9:07 am

Since 2002, solar PV has been installed in Northern Ireland across schools, colleges, local council buildings and hundreds of social and private homes.  Although Northern Ireland doesn’t have FiTs (Feed In Tariffs), there are still three ways you will save money and make money by going solar. 

Here’s how it works in Northern Ireland:

SAVINGS – by using the clean electricity your solar system produces, you will buy less electricity from the grid and make savings on your bill. As grid-supplied electricity prices increase, the savings you make will also increase. It makes sense to use as much of your solar electricity as possible – this will maximise your savings. 

INCOME - under the NIROC’s scheme (Northern Ireland Renewable Obligation Certificates) you will be paid 4 ROCs for every unit of clean electricity you produce from the solar on your roof, worth 17.64p. That’s right, you will be paid 17.64p for every unit of clean electricity produced, whether you use it in your home or export it to the grid. This is paid every year, TAX FREE for 20 years if you are a home owner. Unlike FiT’s, the value of NIROC’s is not index-linked.

A LITTLE MORE INCOME – if Power NI is your electricity supplier, they will install an export meter for free. This enables you to receive a further 5.41p for every surplus unit of clean electricity you produce from the solar on your roof, but do not use. The export tariff is fixed between 1st October 2012 and 30th September 2013, and reviewed annually. Airtricity and Budget do not offer an export tariff at present.

As a general rule of thumb, you should expect a return on investment of 8-12% and a payback of 6-8 years when income and savings are factored.

You can install solar on most homes without planning permission and you will need a certificate from Building Control NI for the installation. You are allowed to install up to 6.5kWp of solar on a single-phase supply, and up to 20kWp on a three-phase supply without advance approval. 

Farms and businesses wishing to install larger systems up to 20kWp on a single-phase supply, and over 20kWp on a three-phase supply require approval by NIE. Commercial-scale installations also require planning permission.

 Your preferred installer should be able to confirm compliance with planning rules, and help you submit a Building Control application and complete the NIROC’s application form after installation.

Once registered, Power NI will ask you to read your generation meter at the end of March each year, and then issue NIROC’s payments around July/August. They will also ask for export meter readings at the end of September each year, and make Export payments in October.

Consumers in N. Ireland pay some of the highest domestic electricity prices at 15-17p per unit. It is these high prices and guaranteed NIROC’s income that are driving uptake of solar PV across N. Ireland. 

About the author: Andy is founder and managing director of Planet Solar (NI) Ltd.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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2 comments - read them below or add one

Planet Solar (NI) Ltd

Planet Solar (NI) LtdComment left on: 4 February 2013 at 10:52 am

Hi banjax - we'll be posting new articles on solar PV in N. Ireland every month, and will be covering community projects.

The RHI was launched by DETI last year, and is available to the non-domestic sector at present. Phase 2 will include homeowners, and is due to be launched this summer.

More information is available at the DETI website.

Thanks for your comment. Andy

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banjaxComment left on: 4 February 2013 at 10:37 am

Great article, can you please follow this up with articles on community power projects in NI and the NIROCS ?


How the RHI will be implemented in NI?



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