Support Scheme for Renewable Heat: How will it benefit farmers?

Farmers can learn more about options in diversifying their farms towards renewable energy at two events, set to be held today and tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 10 and 11.

The information will focus on the newly launched government funding through the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) and is being presented at two Teagasc / the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) seminars.

The first is taking place today at Teagasc Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan, with the second one taking place tomorrow at Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork.

SSRH

The SSRH is a government scheme that provides financial support to convert to renewable heat for a 15-year period.

The scheme will be administered by SEAI and technologies covered in the non-domestic sector which include heat pumps and solid biomass, including combined heat and power.

For biomass it provides a continuous income stream for 15 years in a bid to ensure renewable heat is commercially attractive when compared to fossil fuels.

A once-off grant tariff of 30% of the cost of air, ground and water-source heat pumps is also available.

The SSRH is now open for applications and applicants must be a commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating operator, or other non-domestic heat users at sites not covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

This includes farmers, small businesses, hospitals, schools and district heating schemes (one boiler serving multiple properties).

The Government suggests this area will provide the vast majority of the renewable heat to meet targets, according to Teagasc.

Benefits for farmers

Farmers can potentially benefit from the SSRH, depending on circumstances, according to Teagasc.

The agricultural authority explains that farmers and growers are expected to benefit from supplying fuel to biomass boilers.

There could be scope for individuals, or groups of farmers, to supply heat to local communities through district heating networks, it was added.

The technologies supported such as biomass boilers are very relevant to the pig, poultry and horticulture sectors in Ireland, Teagasc notes.

The SSRH event is addressing the interpretation of eligibility rules for biomass boilers. This will include biomass resources and scheme sustainability criteria.

The area of biomass system quality and performance including consideration of payback on the investment will be discussed during the two hour information seminar.

‘Natural fit for farm businesses’

Speaking at today’s event, Barry Caslin, Teagasc energy and rural development specialist, said: “Woodchip from forest pulpwood, straw and coppiced energy crops could be key renewable fuel sources in the future.

“I welcome the SSRH scheme as biomass boiler technologies and heat pumps have a natural fit with farm businesses.

“For example, many farmers may have a ready supply of wood coppice, or straw which can be used in biomass boilers.”

Ray Langton, SEAI – project manager for the SSRH – added:

At an individual farm level, an investment in renewable energy will reduce the high cost of energy inputs and reduce the carbon footprint of the farm business.

“It will also improve the sustainability of our production that is of increasing importance in the market place,” he concluded.

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