Photovoltaic solar panels are becoming more widespread across Ireland – not only for homeowners but also across the agriculture sector.

Solar panels, which convert the sun’s natural energy into free electricity, are well-suited to modern Irish farms which use machinery which require electricity to function.

Farmers can make huge savings on energy bills and there are grants which offset the upfront cost of installing solar panels for farms in Ireland.

Because of the benefits, which we will outline in more detail below, solar panels in agriculture are becoming a more common sight.

Solar Panels in Agriculture Ireland

Key Takeaways

  • Farms with 90 cows spend over €2,200 per year on electricity each year

  • If you were buying energy at 20c per kWh, and you generate 7,500kWh through solar panels, you’d save €1,500 for your farm

  • The SEAI grant offers up to €162,600 for solar panels installation, while TAMS 3 provides 60% of installation costs up to €90,000

  • Planning permission is not required for solar panels on farms (in most circumstances)

Why Solar Panels are Ideal for Irish Farms

  • Farmers can spend thousands of Euro per year on energy costs

  • Solar panels can slash electricity bills without the need to reduce energy consumption
  • Grants can offset the cost of installing a solar PV system

Solar panels work by converting sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity, which can be used to power any farm machinery which requires electricity to function. How much money farmers spend on electricity depends on the size of their farm. 

Smaller farms typically have higher overheads, however for dairy farms that bring in over €8,000 per year, they can spend around 50 cent on energy per litre of milk, and €5.40 per pig for pig farms. 

Why Solar Panels are Ideal for Irish Farms

Data shows that the average dairy farm in Ireland has 90 cows, so we can estimate that dairy farmers spend over €2,200 per year on electricity, much of which goes towards heating water, vacuum pumping and milk cooling. However, some dairy farmers in Ireland pay as little as 23 cent per litre of milk produced, while others pay as much as 76 cent per litre. 

Despite these disparities in how much dairy and other types of farms pay in energy bills in Ireland, the underlying fact is that they could benefit massively from the installation of solar panels by slashing their annual bills.

How much energy can solar panels produce for farms?

The amount of energy produced by solar panels depends on factors such as the size of the system, their output, and whether the panels are ideally positioned for optimal sunlight exposure. 

Farms can be small or large, and the number of solar PV panels that farms can install is naturally limited by the space that they have available.

Location Approx. area required Solar system size Approx. electricity produced per year
Domestic rooftop 30 square metres 4kW 3,300kWh 
Farm rooftop or south facing field 200 square metres 25kW 20,000kWh
Farm rooftop or south facing field 400 square metres 50kW 40,000kWh
Solar farm 5 acres 1MW 900,000kWh

A 30 square metre roof could accommodate a solar system between 4 and 6kW, producing around the annual electricity of an average household.

The solar panels’ electricity generation will be determined by their peak output, as well as factors such as the sunlight received in a given year.

Taking this into account, we can say that 1 kW of solar panels produces around 800kWh of electricity per year, and needs about 7 sq. m of space.

7 Years

A typical solar installation is fully paid back within 7 years. All solar panels we recommend are under warranty for 25 years, so you will enjoy at least 17 years of free energy generation.

0% VAT

As of 10 May 2023, the government has removed all VAT on solar installation and solar panel supply. This means solar has never been more affordable!

Government Grants

There is a range of government grants available for all new solar installations. Our team will guide you through the application process.

How much can farmers save with solar panels?

The amount of money saved again depends on factors such as efficiency, orientation and the size of the PV system.

For example, if your farm’s electricity needs at a certain time were 30kW and your solar panels were producing 7.5kW, your net import from the grid would be 22.5kW (30kW minus 7.5kW).

Essentially, each unit of electricity not imported from the grid equals savings on energy bills. In the above example, if you were buying energy at 20c per kWh, and you generate 7,500kWh through solar panels, you’d save €1,500.

If your solar panels generate more electricity than you use, then it can be stored in battery for later use (which also protects farms against blackouts), or sold back to the grid for some additional savings.

how much you can save with solar energy

Benefits of Solar Panels on a Farm

There are a number of benefits of solar panels in the agricultural sector.

  • Annual energy bills will be slashed by solar PV panels generating free electricity.
  • Farms with a solar system have more independence from the national grid – meaning more protection from fluctuating electricity prices in what is a changeable market.
  • Farms often have large buildings with substantial roof space – which is not the case for domestic residences, meaning the size of the solar panel array is often less limited by space for farmers.
  • Solar panels are known to be durable and require little maintenance over their 25 to 30 year lifespan. They also have a payback period of a few years after installation, meaning they essentially pay for themselves in a short space of time.
  • A number of grants and higher grant values are also available to farmers than to those who want to install solar PV panels on a domestic residence.
Benefits of Solar Panels on a Farm

Solar Panels Grants for Farms in Ireland

Grants available to farmers in Ireland for solar panels include the SEAI’s Non-Domestic Microgen Grant (NDMG) and the updated TAMS 3 grant. The SEAI grant offers up to €162,600 for solar panels installation, while TAMS 3 provides 60% of installation costs up to €90,000.

apply for solar grant

Non-domestic Microgen Grant for Farms

SEAI non-domestic grants are designed to help with the initial costs of installing a solar PV system. The amount offered depends on the maximum output of the solar PV system, capped at 1,000kWp.  A solar PV system with an output of a maximum 1000kWp can be grant funded through the scheme, and would receive the maximum grant amount of €162,600.

Size of Solar System Grant Amount
3kWp €2,100
6kWp €2,400
7kWp €2,700
15kWp €5,100
20kWp €6,600
50kWp €12,600
100kWp €22,600
200kWp €42,600
500kWp €87,600
1,000kWp €162,600

Those wishing to avail of the SEAI’s Non-Domestic Microgen Grant must first apply for the grant online and wait for their letter of offer before undertaking solar panel installation works. Grant offers are valid for 8 months from the date you receive the offer.

TAMS 3 Grant for Farms

The updated TAMS 3 grant offers up to 60% of the installation costs of a solar PV system. The scheme is open to farmers who have a minimum of 5 hectares of land, and whose land is declared under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS).

The TAMS 3 scheme is capped at €90,000 and the maximum size of panels eligible for support is 62kW. Another condition is that all the electricity generated by the PV system must be used on the farm and dwelling house – i.e. excess electricity cannot be sold back to the grid.

Applicants who wish to apply for the SEAI grant and TAMS support, the TAMS 3 solar unit must be an isolated and distinct system to qualify for the grant.

Online Solar Assessment

Speak with a member of our team and determine the type of solar that best suits your situation

  • Fill in the solar assessment

  • A solar expert will call you with 24 hours and ask any questions they have

  • We will email across accurate quotes, detailing the timeframe, costs, available grants and next steps

Planning Permission for Solar on Farms

In Ireland, Solar PV panels on the rooftops of farm sheds up to 300kW do not require planning permission in the vast majority of cases. Ground mounted systems of up to 17kW are also exempt from needing planning permission. 

For farms located in solar safeguarding zones, near to airports, aerodromes, helipads, and emergency and military facilities, there is a restriction of 300 square metres for the planning exemption to apply.

planning permission for solar panels

Learn How to Get Solar Panels for your Farm Today

If you wish to avail of a free quote and to find out more about solar panels for your farm, don’t hesitate to contact us!

consider getting solar panels installed on your home or business

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