Electricity and fossil fuel prices will never return to where they were, so farmers should look again at the potential to generate energy from wind, solar PV, water or anaerobic digestion (AD), a leading expert in the energy sector has suggested.
“My advice is act now. Take the initiative and take as much of the energy production into your own hands on your own farm, where you can control it,” Richard Bell told attendees at the poultry conference on Monday organised by the UFU and CAFRE.
Having founded solar PV company Solmatix alongside his wife in 2008, the company grew to become the largest in the sector, before Bell was bought out in 2015 by Harvey Group Plc.
Now working outside the solar industry, Bell’s advice to farmers is to look carefully at what energy opportunities they might have on the farm.
He pointed out that while some technologies might not have been financially attractive in the past, soaring electricity prices could mean payback periods now look fundamentally different.
Across the various options he said solar PV is highly reliable with no moving parts, but it does have seasonal and wet day limitations.
Both wind and water require suitable sites, with water power in particular offering consistent generation through the year.
Bell also believes there will be opportunities for small and medium-sized AD, which will suit livestock farms across NI. “AD is more feasible now than ever. Watch out – there will definitely be more companies pushing this type of technology,” he said.