‘We’re going to have to invest a bit of cash to help this planet survive’

Case study: Former broadcaster Shane Kenny spent a net €15,000 on a solar power system

Shane Kenny said he decided to install a solar panel system at his home in Achill, Co Mayo, at a cost of €18,000 in order to "help this planet survive".

The former RTÉ broadcaster is among more than 20,000 households, farms and small businesses with solar panels or wind turbines who will be paid for exporting surplus energy to the national grid.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities launched the consultation in October to ask for views on establishing a scheme that would enable domestic consumers with solar panels or wind turbines to sell excess electricity to the grid.

Mr Kenny had 16 solar panels installed across the roof of his home last June, as well as an inverter and two batteries. He originally started the process back in the autumn of 2020 but the installation was delayed due to Covid-19.


“For me, the big thing is about climate change, having to do something and make changes in the way we consume power,” Mr Kenny told The Irish Times.

“Even when I was talking to the salesman, who was assessing the thing for me, on the basis of the system I was putting in and the cost that it was going to be, off the top of his head he said it was going to be ‘a very, very long time before the system will pay you back for this’.

“As a household system, it’s fairly robust. It cost €18,000 in total. The State provided, I got the top grant for that system, which was €3,000 but it was still €15,000 out of my pocket for it so it’s a fair chunk of money. I’m hoping that my son and my grandson and my son’s family will be able to benefit from it.

“I certainly won’t be around long enough to see it pay back but I think it’s worth doing. We’re going to have to make these kind of changes and invest a bit of cash if we have in order to help this planet survive.”

Mr Kenny said some of his friends and neighbours are considering installing solar panels, and were interested to see what the regulator’s decision would be.

“I think I’m the test case, I’ve had a number of my neighbours who’ve told me they want to know what my experience is,” he said.

“In terms of the commission’s decision, I’m looking at it as a way to alleviate the cost of installing it, that it will make a significant difference in terms of the energy bills that one is facing now. It might also encourage other people.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times