Speaking at the Energy in Agriculture 2017 conference held recently in Gurteen, Co Tipperary, Minister Denis Naughten said that there are huge opportunities out there in the energy sector for farmers and landowners. He said that proposals for a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme will be brought to government in September and that he was determined to make sure the RHI benefits farmers. The Minister expects to make a series of announcements in the coming weeks.
RENEWABLE HEAT INCENTIVE SCHEME
In a news report in Greennews.ie the conference presentation by a Department official Frank Groome gave some information on the proposed RHI scheme. Participants will be required to submit meter readings to the SEAI and must be a non-domestic heat user. Buildings must adhere to energy efficiency criteria and projects must meet efficiency, air quality, and technology standards. The biomass used must also meet fuel quality standards and come from certified sustainable sources. There will be tiered payment support for biomass boilers, heat pumps, solar thermal, deep-geothermal, and anaerobic digestion.
SUSTAINABLE FARM BASED ENERGY
Speaking at a panel discussion at the conference Barry Caslin, Teagasc Energy Specialist said; “Irish farms and rural communities will be making a significant contribution to a resilient, low-carbon energy system. Despite many pioneering efforts in the past the potential of agricultural energy systems really remains largely untapped. The income provided by energy production will increase the resilience of Irish farmers. It will also provide multiple co-benefits, from increasingly rare manufacturing jobs in Ireland to carbon savings and slurry management.”
County Kilkenny farmer, James Murphy from IFA, said; “Farm-based energy provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between farmers and their communities through mechanisms such as shared ownership and jointly-constructed community energy plans. We need to break down the barriers that are stifling investment in sustainable farm based energy and develop a supportive regulatory, planning and financial environment.” Paul Kenny, CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency said; “At individual farm level an investment in renewable energy will reduce the high cost of energy inputs and also provide an additional source of income for the farm business.”
The numerous renewable energy initiatives taken by Gurteen College were on display, including a wind turbine, a biomass boiler to generate heat and recently installed solar panels on the roof of the equine arena. These and other types of renewable energy initiatives will need become the norm on farms if Ireland is to meet its targets for reducing climate damaging emissions. The benefits of renewables have been confirmed in a recent study in the journal Nature Energy which showed that renewables, particularly solar and wind energy, have significantly improved air quality in the United States. It has resulted in thousands of lives saved and have had benefits for the economy and also for the global climate from the lower emissions.
Events in September can be found here