Farmers in Northern Ireland should be able to sell electricity back to the grid in the same way businesses in the rest of the UK can, the farming union says. The government recently announced plans for how electricity will be produced, stored and used in Great Britain – and the Ulster Farmers’ Union is pressing for the Utility Regulator, NIE Networks and SONI to follow this lead in Northern Ireland.
UFU deputy president, Ivor Ferguson, said, “These changes will allow people to sell the renewable electricity they generate to the National Grid. This makes the network more efficient, because it allows homes and businesses to manage their electricity generation and use more effectively.”
By its nature, small-scale renewable generation produces energy intermittently. This is often at night when it cannot be used by the farm business. “Should a storage solution become available, electricity could be generated off-peak and used on-farm during the day. This would overcome the peak-demand problem and smooth out intermittent generation,” he said.
Power supply has to meet demand and should this not happen, power could go out. The UFU believes on-farm energy storage would help tackle this fundamental problem. It says the storage debate needs to be accelerated if small scale renewables are to be sustainable. “The government has decided to take action in GB. We need to see the same happening here, in the shape of a debate on the effective storage of energy and heat,” said Mr Ferguson. He added that a key decision in GB was that operators of small scale facilities would be able to sell electricity to the grid. “This is something we have been actively pursuing here for some time,” said the UFU deputy president.