The big switch: How this Co. Laois farmer went from beef to dairy…with Solar PV

Liam Delaney and his family are farming just outside Portlaoise, Co. Laois, on 160ac of land. The Delaneys have always been beef farmers – Liam himself having been the face of the McDonalds Irish beef advertisements for the past number of years.

The Delaney family decided in 2019 to look into switching from beef to dairy, which was a substantial change in direction of their business.

As the land was fragmented and with only 38ac around the farmyard, Liam felt that the switch would be very difficult, but after speaking to the Lely Center Mullingar team he found that robotic milking was a great fit for his farm.

In February of 2020, Liam installed his first Lely A5 Astronaut on his farm, with room left for a second robot. He built onto his existing shed and with the aid of the design team in Lely Mullingar he utilised every inch of his yard without wasting any ground around the farmyard.

“The first 3 months were tough going and we put a lot of hours into getting it right. Once the cows went to grass, the pressure came off and the whole system is working much better than we expected.

“I have the very same lifestyle now as I had when I was a beef farmer. It was a great investment and we are very happy” says Liam.

Being a forward thinking and progressive farmer, Liam enquired about Solar PV with the Lely Centre team once he had decided to install his robot.

AEI attended a site meeting with Liam and it was confirmed that all Liam’s Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) grant was used in constructing his new buildings, installing his Lely robot and Discovery scraper, so it was decided that Liam would apply for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) BEC grant.

AEI designed an 11kW system for Liam’s farm, maximising his ESB connection. While the solar system is slightly oversized for the current consumption profile at the farm, it will be ideal when Liam installs his second Lely Astronaut installed in the near future.

“It works very well with the Lely Robot as they are going 24/7. When there is daylight, the panels are creating energy and getting consumed by the Robots. It’s the way forward ” adds Liam.

The following financial benefits are available for the Solar PV installation. The SEAI grant covers 30% of the costs. The Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) scheme allows any business to write off the full cost of the installation in year one against any profits. The 13.5% VAT is reclaimed as the full costs is a fixed asset.

The combination of these three benefits leaves Liam with a five-year return on his initial investment and ensures he maintains a competitive edge and keeps his farm sustainable for the next 40 years.

“A number of our customers have already installed the Solar PV system and are very happy with their investments. It works well for farms that are automated with milking, feeding and cleaning equipment as there is a demand on energy all day long. There is great interest in Solar PV and with decent grants available, there are a significant number of installations already planned for 2021” concludes Alan Heaney, Efficient Farm Systems.

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