Plans to cut energy bill by €40m

Martin Ryan

An annual saving of €40million in farm energy costs is being targeted in a new Skillnet programme due to be rolled out over the coming months.

The IFA's Michael McCann claims that farmers could easily save 10pc on the €400m that they currently spend every year on energy.

At €3,000, the average farm electricity bill is almost three times the typical household's bill. Dairy farmers are the heaviest users, paying €6,000-10,000 annually for electricity. The main scope for savings will be in dairying and tillage, where tractors are using an average of €2,000 a year in diesel.

"There is very little difference between the various suppliers of electricity, but there are substantial savings to be made from the more efficient use of power on farms," said Mr McCann.

Dairy farmers gearing up for a 50pc increase in production by 2020 are being urged to put more thought into the efficiency of power usage in all new developments.

"Including energy-efficient technology from the beginning of a new installation is much easier and more cost-effective than adding it at a later date," said Teagasc energy efficiency researcher, John Upton.

Teagasc studies have shown that some dairy farms use three times the amount of electricity per litre, equating to annual savings of around €3,000 for a 100-cow herd.

Milk tank compressors accounted for 39pc of electricity costs, water heaters 21pc and vacuum pumps 20pc. The study also found kerosene is often much more efficient than electricity for water heating.

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