The latest tranche of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS), which opened on April 6 last, includes two new measures â solar PV systems and energy efficient LED lighting.
These will help in the transition to a low carbon economy, said Michael OâDonoghue of the nitrates, biodiversity and engineering division of the department of agriculture.
âUnder the current tranche, solar photovoltaic (PV) installations for electricity generation are now made available to all farm sectors, having previously been on offer to the pig and poultry sector only,â he told an IFA smart farming meeting in Portlaoise.
This will make it possible for farmers to meet part of their on-farm electricity demand from renewable sources.
âThe second measure introduced requires that all lighting funded under TAMS will now be provided by LED lighting only.
âLED lighting uses a fraction of the electricity consumed by conventional lighting, reducing the amount of electricity consumed on farmyards,â the department representative told the seminar.
âThese measures complement the many energy efficiency-related technologies already funded under TAMS.
âThey will make a significant contribution to help ensure that the agriculture sector plays its part in Irelandâs transition to a low carbon economy and society,â he said.
While renewable energy targets are at 20% by 2020, the renewable energy contribution is currently 16%, Michael said.
âBy 2030, the target rises to 32%. The cost of energy consumption on farms is a significant part of overheads and operating costs, at approximately 15%.
The dairy sector has significant levels of electricity use, estimated annually at âŹ40 million to âŹ45 million nationally. Heating, cooling and milking accounts for 75% of electricity demand.
âThe pig and poultry sector is a significant user of heat, using either kerosene or electricity, which accounts for 80% to 85% of energy demand. Heat, power and electricity costs combined amount to âŹ23 million. Energy use accounts for circa 5% of total agricultural emissions,â Michael said.
âA solar PV system consists of a number of solar panels or modules mounted on a roof and connected into the electrical circuit of the building. Solar panels, when exposed to light, generate direct current (DC) electricity, which is then converted in an inverter to alternating current (AC) electricity that powers farmyards,â he outlined.
âTAMS grant aid is provided for 6kW of solar PV installation but the system itself is not restricted to 6kW. For example, a 13kW installation would receive grant on 6kW, the remaining 7kW would be funded entirely by the farmer,â Michael said.
âA 6kW system requires about 20 solar panels on the roof, equivalent to 33mÂ˛. Planning permission is required for a roof-mounted solar panel array in excess of 50mÂ˛; 25mÂ˛ for a ground-mounted version,â said the department spokesman.
The essential components of a solar PV system are: solar PV module, 300W output; mounting system; inverter â DC to AC; electrical cable; and isolation (switch) of solar panel array, he told the seminar.
Of the seven measures available to farmers under TAMS for funding, applications for solar PV are available under four categories: animal welfare; pigs and poultry; organics; and young farmers, the meeting heard.
Applications must include: a copy of the energy survey, signed by the installer; a farmyard plan indicating the location of PV panels, inverter and batteries; detail drawing of the location of solar installation, orientation, location of other buildings; obstructions such as trees and hedges; and mounting type, such as roof, wall or ground.
âA battery for the storage of the generated electricity is optional. Where applicable, they must be stored in IP65 rated cabinets, preferably in plant rooms or similar, but not in animal accommodation quarters.
âIn dairy farms, pig and poultry farms, a battery may generally not be needed â the energy survey will confirm this or otherwise,â Michael said.
âHowever, for all other farm enterprises, it is very likely that a battery will likely be required in order for the installation to be viable. All such micro-generation solar PV systems require a completed NC6 form be sent to ESB Networks,â he said.
Without a grant, the payback on a system is 10.5 years, based on the average annual electricity bill of âŹ2,881 on a dairy farm, the IFA seminar was told.
âWith a grant at 40%, the payback is 6.4 years, and 4.3 years with a 60% grant for young farmers. A contribution of up to 35% of electricity demand is achievable from this renewable source,â Michael said.
LED lighting is more efficient than conventional lighting as it consumes considerably less energy than other forms of lighting. All lighting funded under TAMS II scheme is now required to be LED lighting. All new farm buildings must be fitted with LED lighting if it is to be eligible for grant aid.
âUnder the dairy measure in TAMS, grant aid is available for heat transfer units, taking heat from compressors to heat water.
âUnder the animal welfare, safety and nutrient storage scheme, yard lights with a minimum 200W equivalent, either metal halide or LED, are eligible. However, since the opening of the current TAMS tranche, the metal halide option is no longer permitted,â Michael said.
Under the pigs and poultry measure, the following are eligible:
The TAMS suite of seven measures for on-farm investments incorporates: dairy; tillage; organics; animal welfare; safety and nutrient storage; young farmers; pigs and poultry; and low emission slurry spreading equipment (LESS), the seminar heard.