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