Gwen and Trevor Carnegie use Lely Robots on their large dairy farm outside Rosenallis, Co. Laois, and have recently started to use solar energy as their charge source.

They have three A4 Astronauts and one A5 Astronaut robot milking 235 cows. All robots were installed by the Lely centre Mullingar over the last seven years with the latest A5 installed in the spring of 2020.

Take control of rising costs

With the cost of electricity predicted to continue to increase, and an ever expanding herd of cows, Gwen and Trevor decided it was time to take control of the rising costs,  so they reached out to Alternative Energy Ireland (AEI) who are experts in this area.

Both Gwen and Trevor met AEI at the Ploughing Championships in Co. Carlow in 2019, and then they both came on a farm walk hosted on John Downey’s dairy farm in Kilkenny.

On the farm walk, they had the time to see a fully functional solar system, and AEI even arranged a cherry picker to access the roof so that people could study the entire system before making a decision.

The local AEI representative, Darren Buckley, then visited their farm in Rosenallis and confirmed the farm was a perfect site for Solar PV. The roof had plenty of space and was well orientated for maximum solar gain.

Guaranteed savings with Autarco Solar

After reviewing proposals from several other Solar PV installers, they found AEI’s proposal to be the most comprehensive. AEI’s proposal seemed to be the most sensible and risk-free.

Since June 2020, AEI offers the Autarco Solar PV system which has unique benefits. When AEI proposes a solar system for a farm, they will show the farmer the expected performance from the solar system. If the system under performs, Autarco has a Lloyds Bank guarantee that will pay the farm owner for any shortfall in the performance.

This gives real peace of mind and completely removes any risk associated with an investment in Solar PV.

Gwen Carnegie

Autarco is also the world’s only single branded Solar PV system. All other solar systems are made of parts from several different manufacturers. However, all of the main components of the solar system – from the solar panels, the electrical inverter and the roof mounting system – are manufactured by Autarco.

This gives them total certainty on how they will perform as a system. This is a far superior total system guarantee when compared to the solar panel product guarantee all other suppliers offer.

The installation for Gwen and Trevor’s farm was booked in and the work took place over two days with no interruption to the farm’s electricity – apart from a one hour planned window to connect the solar to the grid. Needless to say, they were very happy with the whole process, from start to finish.

Feed-In Tariff and subsidies

The big change coming in 2021 is the introduction of the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT), starting in July, 2021. With this scheme, all solar systems will be able to sell excess electricity back to the grid and you will earn an income from this. 

The amounts will vary depending on the system size and how much power is consumed on site, but this is a fantastic way to ensure that no power is wasted. The solar power will either be used on site, or exported back to the grid, which  generates an extra income for farmers.

This scheme is long overdue, but it’s still great to see it finally start. Farms all across Ireland have a vast amount of under-utilised roof space not earning an income.

The Accelerated Capital Allowances scheme (ACA) from Revenue allows you to write off the entire install in year one, giving a saving of 12.5% on corporation tax for the year of installation. The solar system is seen as a fixed asset, so the VAT can be reclaimed easily.

The grants outlook is not as positive – in 2019, SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland) was more interested in supporting Solar PV on farms with the communities grant scheme, but it no longer supports Solar PV in the same way. 

The TAMS (Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme) grant is still open for applications, and supports smaller systems up to 6kw on single phase, and 11kw on three phase.

Financing the install

You can finance the install from your own cash reserve or lending from your own bank. Alternatively AEI will put you in touch with a funding partner that will finance the entire installation.

AEI is currently working with an electricity provider and you will soon be able to pay for the installation of the solar system on your electricity bill. You will also benefit from lower cost electricity rates.

Smart investment

If you want to save money, generate an income from your roofs and reduce the carbon emissions from your farm with no risk, contact AEI – Ireland’s longest established renewable energy installer.

Call: 01 443 3996

Email: [email protected] 

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