There is no doubt there is a renewed interest in renewables and what farmers can do in this space. In this Focus supplement we major on solar.

However, as Seán Finan from Bioenergy Ireland outlines, there are opportunities for farmers in biomass also if the right structure and models were in place to allow farmers to participate.

Donegal dairy farmer Richard Starrett is just one example of a farmer who wanted to do what was right for his farm and the environment and wasn’t afraid to make a move.

He recognised the untapped resource that was the roof of his cubicle shed and he set about harnessing the sun and daylight that was hitting his south Donegal farm.

Now, he is using this energy on the farm and in his residential dwelling to maximise the return for his investment and his business.

Richard worked with a Northern Ireland business to make this happen for his farm.

It’s enlightening to see a move by the IFA and Bord Gais to replicate this on other farms, not just dairy farms.

Sector requirements

While dairy farms have a high energy requirement, with milk to be cooled and water to be heated, some beef and sheep farmers could have a very good site for harnessing solar power.

The IFA plan is that energy could be used by farmers at a reduced rate in some other part of the country as part of a new initiative.

With a number of the features in this Focus, there are big questions for the Government and, clearly, action is needed to make these a reality. The ball is in the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue’s court.