Interest from young farmers in the potential electricity savings made by installing roof-top solar PV on their sheds was “off the charts” at last week’s Ploughing as Government is “playing catch up”, according to Start Solar.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at its busy stand at the Ploughing, Start Solar business development manager Killian Murphy said there was a “serious amount of enquiries” and an “awful lot of interest” from farmers at the event.
“With the price of electricity gone up quite steeply over the last couple of months, solar has been a big talking point for a lot of people investing in their businesses, especially the farmers.
“There’s definitely more knowledge there than there would have been this time last year. There definitely has been a lot more research done by farmers.
"So, I think they’re starting to become a lot more aware of what solar can do, especially now that their bills are at a certain level,” he said.
Government catching up
On the Irish Government’s strategy for roof-top solar PV for farm sheds and on allowing farmers to sell back to the grid, Murphy said Ireland is “definitely playing catch up” compared with other countries.
“By the end of October now, we’re hoping to get a scheme in place where people will be able to sell back. For the farmers, they have shed roofs, they have the space, they have the commitment to do it.
“I think the Government really needs to step in now and be able to make it streamlined for farmers to be able to sell back because that’s what it’s all about.
"They need to make the process straightforward; you cannot make it complicated and there has to be decent rates there,” he said.
The Start Solar representative said farmers are business people and, therefore, need to know “what their investment is going to be and how much they’re going to be able to send back [to the grid]”.
“There’s definitely been a lot of young farmers coming through, dairy farmers as well. There are farmers who do a lot of work in the mornings and in the evenings and production of solar is a serious benefit to them in the middle of the day.”
Murphy said Government should “change their thinking” when it comes to on-farm renewables not counting towards agriculture’s 25% emissions ceiling, as he said it is an investment in reducing emissions by the farm sector.
“I’m not sure why the Government has taken a stance, because, for us as a renewable company, it is a renewable system, so why it’s not going towards that target, we’re not really sure.
“The 25% is obviously quite hefty to hit and without having solar as being one of the options, I think it could be quite tricky to hit,” he said.