The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has called for carbon savings for on-farm renewables to be counted under the current carbon accounting data for agriculture.

UFU deputy president David Brown said that under the NI Department for Economy’s (DfE) recent consultation on the ‘Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland’, agriculture is not getting the credit it deserves.

“Farming is being targeted in the climate change debate and many seem unaware of the active role the land-based sector is making in the production of renewable energy” he said.

“With technological developments this could be integrated into further farm businesses and the carbon savings could be accelerated” he continued.

On-farm renewables fall into the energy inventory

“Yet, carbon savings emulating from on-farm small-scale renewables are not being considered under current carbon accounting data.

“On-farm renewables fall into the energy inventory, the same way on-farm tree planting goes into ‘Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry’ (LULUCF),” he said.

“The UFU message is that our farmers are the climate change solution, not the problem. Consequently, NI farming must be given credit for carbon savings emulating from on-farm renewable technologies and this needs to be reflected in the agriculture figures,” said Mr Brown.

Energy strategy

The DfE recent consultation on the ‘Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland’ proposes to achieve net zero carbon and affordable energy including a 70% renewable electricity target by 2030.

Mr Browne says that through the generation of renewable energy on farms, agriculture is playing an active role in reducing carbon emissions. The land-based sector in NI is already producing enough renewable energy to provide power to 150,000 homes.