Energy Efficiency First then Renewables for Farmers

PUTTING energy efficiency at the top of the list when considering renewable energy projects is vital according to an excellent article in the Farmer’s Guardian.

The publication refers to the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) figures revealing that in 2012 total electricity generated from renewables rose 20 percent compared to the previous year.

Quoting Michael Verity, head of resources and energy at property firm Strutt and Parker, Farmer’s Guardian reports that many of the UK’s farmers overlook important stages, missing saving opportunities by rushing to ‘jump on the green bandwagon’.

“Pressures can come from knowing the next Feed-in Tariff, renewable obligation certificate [ROC] or renewable heat incentive [RHI] tariff reductions are imminent. They can also arise from fear there will not be enough capacity in local electricity networks to export power, as neighbors are all busy erecting solar panels or wind turbines,” said Verity.

“Opportunities such as simple efficiency and control measures to reduce energy needs will reduce your energy consumption and associated costs and lead to smaller investment being required in generating technologies.

“Investment in generation makes real sense when you can use all of what you produce. So time should be set aside to follow the three-step path – reduce energy needs, control energy usage, generate energy – and match a system to your requirements.” he added.

An energy audit is vital in improving energy efficiency and cutting waste.

Verity said, “Energy consultants and engineers will identify these areas and help a farmer understand where they can be applied. Some of the steps will not incur costs as they may only need improved staff awareness. However, some expenditure should be expected.”

Once an energy walk round is completed Verity adds that there should be a monitoring of energy use, ideally by considering advance energy meter data.

He says: “These will show usage patterns which will help match the type of generating power to the needs of the farm. If power is mainly used during darker winter months then a turbine may be more suitable than solar options.

“This analysis of power can help reduce costs. It could note whether energy used on winter days at higher tariff times, such as 4pm-7pm, can be avoided.

“These tariffs can exceed 40p/kWh depending on region. Learning how, when and why you use energy is not a lengthy process and should always be the first task if you are concerned about energy use.”

Picture of a wind turbine on a farm by Dirk Ingo Franke (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday 29th April 2013

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