‘Energy In Agriculture 2017’ was officially opened by Denis Naughten TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment today, Tuesday, 22 August. Thousands of people attended the event which is taking place at Gurteen Agricultural College in County Tipperary.
Speaking at the event Minister Naughten said that there are huge opportunities out there in the energy sector for farmers and landowners. He said that proposals for a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme will be brought to government in September. He said he was determined to make sure the RHI benefits local farmers. The Minister expects to be making a series of announcements between now and the National Ploughing Championships.
Speaking at a panel discussion following the official opening, Barry Caslin Teagasc Energy Specialist said; “Irish farms and rural communities will be making a significant contribution to a resilient, low-carbon energy system. Despite many pioneering efforts in the past the potential of agricultural energy systems really remains largely untapped. The income provided by energy production will increase the resilience of Irish farmers. It will also provide multiple co-benefits, from increasingly rare manufacturing jobs in Ireland to carbon savings and slurry management. We need to find better ways to recognise and reward to non-energy benefits of farm scale energy systems.”
County Kilkenny farmer, James Murphy from IFA, said; “Farm-based energy provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between farmers and their communities through mechanisms such as shared ownership and jointly-constructed community energy plans. We need to break down the barriers that are stifling investment in sustainable farm based energy and develop a supportive regulatory, planning and financial environment.”
Paul Kenny, CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency said; “’Energy in Agriculture’ is helping farmers make informed choices about the best technologies and options for their businesses. At individual farm level an investment in renewable energy will reduce the high cost of energy inputs and also provide an additional source of income for the farm business.”
The numerous renewable energy initiatives taken by Gurteen College were on display, including a wind turbine, a biomass boiler to generate heat and recently installed solar panels on the roof of the equine arena.
The ‘Energy In Agriculture 2017’ event was jointly organised by Teagasc, Tipperary Energy Agency, Gurteen Agricultural College, Tipperary County Council and the IFA and was sponsored by SEAI, Bord na Mona, and Gas Networks Ireland.