In recent years, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have become an increasingly popular option for farmers in Ireland who are looking to reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprint. This is particularly true for dairy farmers, who are among the biggest energy consumers in the agricultural sector. In this blog post, we will explore some of the reasons why installing solar PV on a dairy farm in Ireland is a smart choice.
Reduce Electricity Costs
Electricity costs are a major expense for dairy farmers. According to Teagasc, the average annual electricity bill for a typical 100 cow dairy farm in Ireland is around €5,000. In 2023 this has dramatically increased with some farms seeing there ESB bills come in at nearly double. However, this cost can vary depending on a number of factors such as the size of the farm, the number of cows, and the level of automation. By installing solar PV, dairy farmers can generate their own electricity and reduce their reliance on the grid. This can lead to significant cost savings over time, as well as protection against future price increases.
In addition to reducing costs, solar PV can also generate revenue for dairy farmers. Under the government's Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH), farmers can receive payments for the renewable electricity they generate. These payments are made on a quarterly basis for 15 years and are based on the amount of electricity produced. In addition, farmers can also benefit from the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) which is a government-backed scheme that pays for the electricity generated by the system, which is exported to the grid.
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers, and dairy farmers are no exception. Installing solar PV can help farmers to reduce their carbon footprint and enhance their environmental credentials. By generating their own electricity, farmers can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to the decarbonization of the Irish energy sector. This can be particularly appealing to consumers who are looking for sustainably produced dairy products.
Improve Energy Efficiency
In addition to generating their own electricity, solar PV can also help dairy farmers to improve their energy efficiency. By installing energy-efficient lighting and equipment, farmers can reduce their overall energy consumption and make their operations more sustainable. This can also help to reduce maintenance costs and improve the longevity of equipment.
Increase Farm Resilience
In recent years, extreme weather events such as storms and floods have become more common in Ireland. These events can disrupt the electricity supply and cause significant damage to farms. By installing solar PV, dairy farmers can improve their resilience to these events by generating their own electricity and reducing their reliance on the grid. This can also help to protect farmers against future electricity price increases and ensure that their operations remain viable in the long term.
Enhance Animal Welfare
Animal welfare is a key concern for dairy farmers, and installing solar PV can help to improve conditions for cows. Solar panels can provide shade and protection from the elements, which can be particularly important during the summer months when cows are most susceptible to heat stress. This can lead to improved milk yields and a reduction in health problems for cows.
Support Rural Development
Finally, installing solar PV on dairy farms can also help to support rural development. By generating their own electricity, farmers can reduce their reliance on the grid and contribute to the development of a more sustainable and resilient energy system in Ireland. This can also create opportunities for rural communities, such as job creation in the installation and maintenance of solar PV systems.
In conclusion, installing solar PV on a dairy farm in Ireland is a smart choice for a number of reasons. Not only can it help to reduce electricity costs and generate revenue, but it can also enhance sustainability, improve energy efficiency, increase farm resilience, enhance animal welfare, and support rural development. With the availability of government support schemes and falling installation costs, there has never been a better time to install Solar PV