Now is the time for PV

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Photovoltaic panels have been one of the most popular forms of renewable energy over the past three years.

They have been installed widely on intensive farm businesses and in dwelling houses.

Overall people have been very satisfied with their performance. The electricity they produce has reduced bills and made farm businesses more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

PV systems receive support under the government Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme and this has been a significant influence on their uptake across the country.

From 1 October 2015 the level of support on new systems below 50 kW will be reduced from the current 4 ROCs to 1.6 ROCs. This will be a reduction from approximately 16.3 pence for each unit of electricity generated down to around 6.5 pence. This will have a major impact on the profitability of a PV system.

Anyone considering a PV project on the farm would be well advised to take action now. If a feasibility study is needed from NIE, the time scale is around three months and in addition the installation companies anticipate a rush of work as the summer advances.

To help prepare for this situation a series of PV training workshops have been organised by CAFRE. These are at the times and locations below:

Armagh - Monday 26 January, 7.45 pm

Limavady - Monday 2 February, 7.45 pm

Ballynahinch - Monday 9 February, 7.45 pm

The workshops will cover the principles of solar photovoltaic systems. Aspects considered will include:

* The annual electricity output of the panels

* The financial support from the ROCs

* The efficiency and lifetime of the inverter

* How the reduction in the farm’s carbon footprint could be of advantage in the market place

* Consideration of payback on the investment

To find out more details and book a place phone (028) 9442 6770 or e mail david.trimble@dardni.gov.uk.

Note also that PV power will be one of the topics covered at the Practical On-farm Renewable Energy event on Enniskillen Campus on Wednesday 18 February, running from 1.00 to 9.00 pm.