The IFA and Bord Gáis Energy have launched a joint initiative to test the viability of rooftop solar PV arrays for farmers. The first two on-farm rooftop solar installations of the project were recently commissioned.

The IFA says the project will involve farmers in all sectors, farm sizes and locations, in order to gain comprehensive data on micro-generation on farms and to understand the challenges in implementation.

Robert McBride, a poultry farmer from Monaghan, and John Murphy, a dairy farmer from Cork, are the first two working farms taking part in the project. Each farm recently installed a 10kW solar PV array, availing of a 60% grant. The projected payback is five to seven years.

The project will monitor and test all elements of the micro-generation.

This includes sizing of capital grant to support an acceptable payback period, effectiveness of proposed feed-in tariff, changes in planning and grid access, and piloting a model that may lead to farmers trading power within the farming community. In later stages of the project, larger solar systems will be installed on farms and will include battery storage.