The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said it’s “paramount” that both EirGrid and the ESB “fully recognise and respect” that the co-operation of farmers is “essential to the development of grid infrastructure”.

EirGrid has said that it plans to have 500MW of electricity coming from micro-generation by 2030, as outlined in its ‘Shaping our Electricity Future‘ roadmap that was outlined yesterday (Wednesday, November 10).

Tim Cullinan, the IFA president, stressed that this can only be achieved with farmer support.

“Farmers recognise the need for infrastructure development and in general have facilitated the process over the years.

“Working through agreement is the best approach. This can only be achieved when farmers’ statutory rights are fully protected and compensation and goodwill payments reflect the impacts of the developments,” according to Cullinan.

He argued that farmers are entitled to compensation for all damages, losses, disturbance, inconvenience and costs, including the devaluation of their properties and the impact on their farming businesses.

Paul O’Brien, the IFA’s environment chair, noted that it was “encouraging to see the increased ambition” for the potential for micro-generation to contribute 500MW by 2030.

“Farmers want to be central players in Ireland’s energy transition.

“They recognise the opportunities of microgeneration to produce energy for their use and diversify their farm income by selling excess energy back to the grid, thus enhancing the sustainability of their farm business,” O’Brien said.

At present, Ireland’s adaption of renewable technologies at farm level are far below the European average. In 2018, we ranked 23 of the 27 EU countries (not including the UK) for renewable energy from agriculture, producing just 2.6% compared to the EU-27 average of 12.1%.

O’Brien argued that it is “vital that the scope of the Microgeneration Support Scheme (MSS) is widened, making farm and community-based microgeneration projects viable”.

“The net payback period for most on-farm scenarios in the draft scheme is too high and must be reviewed,” the IFA environment chair also pointed out.