Experts agree food and energy production are compatible

Energy production can be compatible with food productionm or other land uses that are beneficial to society.

The assurance was given by the organisers of the ‘Energy in Agriculture 2017’ event — which will take place tomorrow at Gurteen College in Co Tipperary.

It is being held jointly by Teagasc,Tipperary County Council, the Irish Farmers’ Association, Tipperary Energy Agency and Gurteen College. The aim is to provide practical information for farmers and the rural sector about the various renewable energy and energy efficiency options available for farm businesses.

Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Denis Naughten said he recognised the efforts being made by industry to reduce emissions. “By working in partnership to meet the greenhouse gas challenge, we can map our own future, increase efficiency and profitability, and decrease our carbon intensity in a sustainable way,” he said.

Minister Naughten said the planned Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme is a key policy support measure for this development.

Energy specialist with Teagasc, Barry Caslin, said there is a need to improve energy security by reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels. “In the longer term we need to tackle global warming by reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the earth’s atmosphere,” he said.

Mr Caslin said tomorrow’s event will improve the knowledge base for farmers on how they can improve efficiencies and deploy renewables to improve the sustainability of Irish agriculture.

It will feature a series of seminars, with local case studies of the main renewable energy technologies.

Mike Pearson, Principal of Gurteen Agricultural College, will share his experiences of installing a 50kW wind turbine and 300kW biomass boilers.

Seminars will cover biomass production and utilisation, and energy efficiency in various farming enterprises. They will also deal with many of the issues facing those considering installing a green energy source. One of the new features this year will be the provision of one-to-one clinics where farmers can book a slot to get free advice on their energy project.

There will also be over 50 stands in the trade exhibition area and an opportunity to tour a biomass boiler installation and wind turbine at Gurteen College.

IFA Renwables Committee chairman James Murphy said the free event, which is Department of Agriculture Knowledge Transfer approved, will equip farmers with new information and ideas about the opportunities and issues that exist in the renewable energy sector.

Mr Murphy said a policy framework is necessary to support and encourage farmer involvement. A National Energy Forum to develop coherent policy has been long awaited. He called on Minister Naughten to put this in place, with meaningful tariff supports for farm scale and community based energy production.

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