How solar PV and batteries are helping a 12-unit parlour farmer in Co. Carlow

A solar PV system is helping Jonathan Fennell, a dairy and beef farmer, who is living just outside Carlow town. He is milking 120 cows while also rearing all his calves to either replacements or beef. Jonathan milks on a 12-unit parlour set up on a single-phase connection.

Jonathan has a high demand on hot water for wash down. He heats 400L of water cylinders using his electric immersions. His farm is 100% dependent of electricity, so installing solar PV made perfect sense.

After meeting a number of solar PV companies at the National Ploughing Championships in Co. Carlow in 2019, Jonathan found that AEI was the one company that listened to his needs.

AEI designed the solar PV system around his specific requirements and was able to carry out the installation with minimum disruption.

‘Easy decision’

Jonathan went for a 7.44kW solar system, meaning this system will output 7.44kW on a bright day. The system is made up of 24 solar panels; four batteries; and two inverters.

This maxed out his ESB NC6 restrictions and two power diverters to divert any excess power from the solar system into his existing hot water cylinders.

Obviously, having a parlour system, Jonathan’s main peak demand on electricity was for his morning and evening milking; hence, this is why a battery storage and hot water power diverter was the most sensible solution on Jonathan’s farm.

In some cases, AEI can set the batteries to charge to full on the night rate electricity, which helps farmers to store cheaper night rate electricity for using during the morning milking.

A 40kW east-west solar PV installation installed by AEI in 2019

Jonathan availed of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II grant of 40%. Alongside this grant, he could write the entire cost of his solar PV installation off in year one under the accelerated capital allowance (ACA) scheme and claim the VAT back as the system is classed as a fixed asset.

With all grants and subsidies taken into account, Jonathan will have his investment back in electricity savings in less than six years. With a 30-year output warranty on the solar panels and a life expectancy of 40 years, it was an easy decision for Jonathan to go with AEI.

Bespoke renewable energy systems

The long awaited feed-in-tariff is expected to launch in 2021 and, very soon after that, the grants could be reduced or abolished.

The feed-in-tariff is where businesses will be paid for electricity they send back to the national grid. Signing up this year means that you will benefit from the current grants and the forthcoming feed-in-tariff. Signing up next year, you will only get the feed-in-tariff.

AEI designs bespoke renewable energy systems that are tailored to the requirements and consumption at each business. With Covid-19 present, the company is able to offer a remote desktop survey to establish the costs and it can do a virtual presentation of the business case.

A 30kW solar PV system installed by AEI in Co. Kilkenny

2020 really is the most financially beneficial year to invest in solar, as you get the full benefit of the grants and the upcoming feed-in-tariff. Combining the benefits of both subsidies could bring your payback down by another year.

This gives your business a competitive edge and also ensures you keep control of one of your main overheads. Solar uptake on farms has doubled for the last two years, so don’t lose out while the best incentives are available.

The farmers’ choice

With a working partnership with Lakeland Dairies, Efficient Farm Systems in Mullingar and a growing number of installations completed with Lely Center Mullingar customers, AEI is fast becoming the farmers’ choice for renewable energy in the agricultural sector.

AEI is Ireland’s longest established renewable energy specialists and with many successful installations in the agri sector, it is a perfect fit for farms all over Ireland. There are different incentives available now and upcoming; contact AEI to discuss all the options and to see which scheme is right for your business.

You can contact AEI at its office in Tullamore on: 057-9300-100; or in Dublin at: 01-4433-996.

Also check out its website for plenty of useful information by clicking here