Po­ten­tial­sys­tem­sen­er­gyof d e p p a t n u o i t e c u

Irish Examiner - Farming - - COMMENT -

Crops de­te­ri­o­rat­ing af­ter har­vest de­layed by bad weather An up­date on the ur­gent search for non- an­tibi­otic cures for mas­ti­tis The po­ten­tial of agri­cul­tural en­ergy sys­tems re­mains un­tapped, said experts at the re­cent En­ergy In Agri­cul­ture 2017 event in Co Tip­per­ary. Con­trast that with the re­cent Gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion in Hol­land to in­vest over €200 mil­lion in a scheme in­clud­ing the Fries­landCamp­ina dairy co- op, to put so­lar pan­els on the shed roofs owned by 310 of the co-op mem­bers and milk sup­pli­ers.

Th­ese Dutch dairy farm­ers can qual­ify for free in­stal­la­tion of the pan­els, and earn € 3 to € 4 euro per panel per year, while the pan­els gen­er­ate more than 20% of the elec­tric­ity needed for the Dutch fac­to­ries and of­fices of Fries­landCamp­ina.

The elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated will be equiv­a­lent to the power for 33,000 av­er­age house­holds. It is part of a Fries­landCamp­ina plan to achieve cli­mate neu­tral ex­pan­sion of the com­pany by 2020.

There has been a big re­sponse, with so­lar pan­els in­stalled al­ready for 1,600 dairy farm­ers, with a sec­ond par­tic­i­pa­tion round for Fries­landCamp­ina mem­ber dairy farms tak­ing place now. In sharp con­trast, noth­ing is hap­pen­ing in Ireland, with ev­ery­one still wait­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of a Re­new­able Heat In­cen­tive ( RHI) which was f irst sug­gested in the En­ergy White Pa­per en­ti­tled, ‘Ireland’s Tran­si­tion to a Low Car­bon En­ergy Fu­ture 20152030’, launched in De­cem­ber, 2015. Nearly two years on, the high­light of the En­ergy In Agri­cul­ture 2017 event in Co Tip­per­ary was Min­is­ter for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Cli­mate Ac­tion and the En­vi­ron­ment De­nis Naugh­ten re­veal­ing that pro­pos­als for an RHI scheme will be brought to gov­ern­ment in Septem­ber.

If that dead­line is achieved, there will be i nevitable fur­ther months of de­lay for Gov­ern­ment ap­proval and State Aid clear­ance from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. With Ireland well down the EU league ta­ble in terms of meet­ing our cli­mate change tar­gets, the RHI de­lay is in­ex­pli­ca­ble, post­pon­ing Ireland’s ef­forts to meet the re­new­able en­ergy obli­ga­tion set by the EU of 12% re­new­able heat­ing by 2020, for cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion. Only 6.6% of heat de­mand was de­rived from re­new­able sources in 2016.

All we know for sure about the RHI yet is that Min­is­ter Naugh­ten said it will be very dif­fer­ent from the “ash for cash” i n c e n t i ve w h i c h col­lapsed the North­ern Ireland As­sem­bly. How­ever, it was en­cour­ag­ing for farm­ers at the En­ergy In Agri­cul­ture 2017 event that the Min­is­ter said he was de­ter­mined to make sure the RHI ben­e­fits farm­ers.

That too re­mains to be seen. In­dus­trial scale re­new­able en­ergy com­pa­nies are also wait­ing with bated breath for the RHI, with many wind farm pro­jects ap­par­ently held up, wait­ing to see how much of an in­cen­tive the RHI might of­fer. The Friends of the Earth org ani­sa­tion has ex­pressed fears that the de­lay in pub­lish­ing the new sup­port scheme for re­new­able elec­tric­ity may be due to econ­o­mists with no in­ter­est in pub­lic par tic­i­pa­tion, and big power com­pa­nies who want to keep the mar­ket to them­selves, telling the Gov­ern­ment not to pay house­holds and com­mu­ni­ties for the elec­tric­ity they gen­er­ate, to leave it to the ‘big boys’ to pro­vide Ireland’s re­new­able en­ergy.

Ac­cord­ing to Friends of the Earth, home-own­ers and busi­nesses can make a sig­nif­i­cant c o n t r i b u t i o n t o I re l a n d ’ s switch to clean en­ergy, if the RHI of­fers them a rea­son­able fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive for gen­er­at­ing so­lar elec­tric­ity. This is the con­clu­sion of a cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis com­miss i o n e d by Fr i e n d s o f t h e Earth, car­ried out by Joseph Curtin, Se­nior Re­search Fel­low with re­spon­si­bil­ity for cli­mate change pol­icy at the In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional and Euro­pean Af­fairs, a Re­search Fel­low at Univer­sity Col­lege Cork, and a Cli­mate Change Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil mem­ber. Mr Curtin said elec­tric­ity bills would be re­duced by al­low­ing house­hold­ers to gen­er­ate their own elec­tric­ity, but they must also be able to sell to the grid what they can­not use them­selves.

He found that a gen­er­a­tion tar­iff of about 10 cent per kilo­watt of elec­tric­ity, com­bined with an ex­port tar­iff of 6 cent, would be re­quired to make rooftop so­lar en­ergy at­trac­tive for house­hold­ers. Tea­gasc GRASS10 graz­ing event takes place on farm of Der­mot O’Con­nor, Lis­bane, Shanagolden, Co Lim­er­ick at 11am

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