Farm Ireland

Friday 18 January 2019

‘We need a different mindset on energy use’ - Farmers advised to monitor their ESB bills

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Farmers need to start engaging in benchmarking and monitoring of heat and electricity use in order to create a new mindset around the way we produce and use energy in Ireland, said a Teagasc expert.

Barry Caslin, Teagasc bioenergy and rural development specialist, told the Farming Independent that Knowledge Transfer groups would be an ideal place for farmers to start a conversation around energy use on their farms.

“We need to create a totally new mindset in Ireland and to do this farmers should monitor their ESB bills and see what are their largest energy consumers and record it. It’s about behavioural change and putting more thought in to energy use,” he said.

“More benchmarking is needed and comparisons should be made between the most efficient and least energy efficient farms and KT groups would be an ideal place to discuss this.”

Mr Caslin added that farmers should first start to energy-proof their farm house before they move to the farm by engaging in activities such as sealing gaps on doors and replacing single-glazed windows.

Vacuum pumps

Last August, Teagasc and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) launched The Energy Efficiency in Dairy Sector Pilot, which aimed to reduce the electricity consumption of vacuum pumps by 60pc by applying Variable Speed Drive technology (VSD).

According to Mr Caslin, the programme received 78 applications, 51 proceeded for payment and 47 went ahead with the project. In total, 43 vacuum pumps and 21 milk pumps were installed, and he expects the programme to get the go-ahead in 2018.

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“Installing these types of technologies reduces kilo-Watt hours of energy used in the milking process by 50pc and cuts two or three tonnes of CO2 emissions per dairy farm per year. With all this talk of decarbonisation going on at the moment, this is one way that could help,” he said.

IFA’S renewables chair, Tom Short, called on more money to be put aside as soon as possible by the Government for supports for farmers to install solar energy and to set up anaerobic digestion, as the set up costs are sometimes too high for farmers.He also urged farmers to seriously consider the IFA Smart Farming initiative which aims to reduce farm energy usage.

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