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Thursday 13 December 2018

Going Solar: How this dairy farmer knocked €1,300 off his electricity bill

Panels being installed on Kilkenny dairy farm
Panels being installed on Kilkenny dairy farm
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

In a bid to save money on his electricity bills Kilkenny dairy farmer Cathal Moran recently took the innovative step to install a 10kWp solar installation

The project was developed by Elgin Energy in partnership with Activ8 Solar Energies and it is the first time such a project and structure has been installed on an Irish farm.

The project was installed in a single day and will produce up to 9,000kWh of electricity per annum – that’s enough to power two homes for an entire year.

The structure consists of a simple lightweight steel frame driven into the ground with no concrete being poured.

The panels are mounted onto the frame and connect directly to the farm’s fuse board.

It is expected to save dairy farmer, Cathal Moran, an average of €1,300 annually – 20pc off his electricity bill.

Planning was required for the development but only took a few months to obtain.

In relation to cost, this is a pilot scheme was financed by Elgin Energy. The purpose of this is to gather data and learnings so that it can develop cost effective ways to deliver small scale solutions for Irish farmers and other commercial enterprises.

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The pilot scheme was developed in response to growing emissions in agriculture; the most carbon-intensive industry in Ireland.

In 2016, it was the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions representing 32.3pc of total emissions.

Root like mechanism to secure panels in ground after insertion.
Root like mechanism to secure panels in ground after insertion.

These emissions are set to increase by 5pc in 2020 due to increasing animal numbers.

The appetite for rooftop and small scale solar PV has grown rapidly in Ireland over the past decade.

With only 6MW energised in Ireland to date compared to 12,000MW in the UK, there is a huge opportunity not just for commercial scale solar farms but also for small scale residential and business installations.

Mr Moran was eager to participate in the scheme.

“Consumers are demanding sustainable practices are adopted – this is being passed through the supply chain and farmers are now trying to identify how they can best meet this demand.

“Solar is the perfect solution because it is easy to install and it will reduce both my electricity bill and my carbon footprint.”

Elgin Energy’s Managing Director Ronan Kilduff emphasised the need for government support.

“Solar energy can be integrated across every farm in Ireland if the right policies are in place. Planning exemptions for small scale solar installations and the ability to sell excess energy to the grid are crucial in assisting adoption of solar across Irish farms.

“Farming is the backbone of Ireland and this challenging industry requires support to adopt improved sustainable practices. The solar industry is best placed to provide this support.”

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