Growing confidence in photovoltaic systems

Hall Donnell and his son in front of the 20 kW PV system on the roof of his workshop.
Hall Donnell and his son in front of the 20 kW PV system on the roof of his workshop.

Many farm businesses have made an investment in a photovoltaic (PV) system in the last two years to help reduce their electricity costs in the long term and make their farm more sustainable, writes David Trimble, Greenmount Campus, CAFRE.

With PV being a new and largely unknown technology there was uncertainty about the amount of electricity that would actually be produced and the financial return on the investment.

With this in mind, CAFRE approached a number of farms where PV systems had recently been installed and asked the farm owner for permission to monitor the output of electricity from the system. This information was provided for five PV installations based on farms at various locations across the country. Some of the installations were on a shed roof and some were on intensive livestock houses. The encouraging result was that all of the systems performed well and they all exceeded the output that was calculated under the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAPs). This is the measurement system that installers are obliged to use to give a measure of the electricity production of a proposed PV system.

With confidence in the output of a photovoltaic installation established, you can then consider how it might fit into your business. The ideal situation is where all of the electricity produced can be used on site.

This not only makes the business more sustainable, but it also shortens the payback time on the investment.

There will be opportunities to learn more about PV systems at a series of training workshops that are being organised by CAFRE in January and February 2015. Also the Practical On-farm Renewable Energy event will take place on the Enniskillen Campus on Wednesday 18 February, running from 1.00 pm to 9.00 pm.

For more details, contact David Trimble at or by phone on 028 9442 6682 or visit the website at: