Wind energy has the potential to supply electricity across the world. Unlike other sources of electricity that require fuel in processing plants, wind energy generates electricity through wind, which is free from emissions.
Turbines can be used to generate electricity from wind. By harnessing wind energy, farmers can often cover all their energy and create a surplus which can be injected into the grid.
Why should farmers consider on-farm wind energy?
Wind energy has negligible adverse effects on the environment as wind turbines do not emit carbon or other air pollutants and do not require water for cooling. The SEAI Energy report (2021) in Ireland Indicated that in 2020:
- Approximately 42% of all electricity generated in 2020 came from renewable sources.
- 86% of all renewable electricity came from wind, with the remaining 14% evenly split across hydroelectricity and bioenergy sources.
What are the considerations for wind power development?
The following considerations should be taken into account for wind energy development on a farm.
- The turbine must not be attached to a building
- Only one turbine per site.
- Total height must not exceed 20m and roto diameter must not exceed 8m
- A 3m minimum clearance is required between the ground and the lowest point of the blades.
- Noise levels must not exceed 43db(A) at the nearest inhabited dwelling.
Economic and Environmental Benefits
The economic benefits and emission reduction of investing in a wind turbine for a typical 84-cow herd are summarised in Table 11.
Table 11 Economic benefits and emission reduction when using wind turbine
|Scenario 1||Scenario 2|
|Without grant||With grant(60% initial cost)|
|Annual savings (€)||2692||2692|
|Return on Investment (%)||16||35|
|Total emissions(kg CO2-eq / kg FPCM)||0.94||0.94|
|Emissions reduction (%)||1.4||1.4|
A flat rate price of 35c /kwh of electricity is used
Scenarios are modelled for a typical 84-cow herd
Research at Farm Zero C
At FZC, a holistic approach to farm energy is being used which includes the use of renewable energy and efficient use of energy on the farm. The farm uses a 15kw power wind turbine combined with a 40kw PV system. The objective is for the farm to have all energy coming from renewable sources.
Key findings from previous research on wind energy include:
- To help farmers decide on potential farm technologies for energy, a collaboration between Teagasc, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Cork Institute of Technology developed the National Agricultural Energy optimisation tool
- Cost-benefit analysis of wind energy generation has shown that wind farms can generate electricity at a very low cost since they do not require fuel resulting in lower prices for the end consumer (Baringa Partners, 2019).
- Wind generation has the potential to displace more expensive sources such as gas or coal-fired power stations or imports, reducing prices in the market (KPMG, 2021).
- The deployment of wind generation in Ireland avoided 33 million tonnes of power sector CO2 emissions between 2000 and 2020 ( SEAI, 2021).
Links to More Research
Harnessing Renewable Energy for Sustainable Agricultural Applications
Cost Benefit Analysis of Wind Energy
The following regulations and actions apply to wind energy development and the role of renewable energy towards climate-neutral agriculture.
AgClimatise roadmap– The use of wind energy contributes to action 18 of the roadmap to climate-neutral agriculture.
“Action 18: Generate at least a 20% reduction in agricultural energy use by 2030 across all farms. In addition, generate at least 20% deployment of renewable energy technologies focusing primarily on energy-intensive farming systems.”
European Machinery Directive [2006/42/EC]
The White Paper: Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030
Draft Renewable Electricity Policy and Development Framework (2016)