Leading poultry farmer goes solar to cut electric bills
ONE of Northern Ireland’s leading poultry farmers has said he is fed up paying £100,000 per year in energy bills and is leading the way forward in the poultry industry by installing a £30,000 solar system on his chicken houses in order to cut his electric bills in half.
Fred Maxwell, of Maxwell Farms based in the Clogher Valley, said every year he pays £20,000 for his electricity and £80,000 on gas but has now decided enough is enough.
Mr Maxwell, who has 10 poultry houses, holding 270,000 birds and each house measure 250ftX57ft, said farmers across Northern Ireland are always working in challenging conditions but crippling energy bills are an extra challenge which adds pressure on businesses.
He said: “The size of my farm means my bills are massive. To be paying £100,000 per year on energy is awful so I decided something had to be done. I did a lot of research into wind turbines, solar panels and anaerobic digestion but I felt that solar was the way forward for me because once the system is installed, it’s completely hassle free. I don’t have to maintain it. The panels work on their own.”
Mr Maxwell currently has a 20kw system operating 84 solar panels on his chicken houses which he expects will cut his electricity bill by a quarter in the first year. Early next year, he intends to install another 30kw system which means his farm will be running a 50kw system which will reduce his energy bills in half.
Mr Maxwell added: “It was a tough decision to make but I am running a business and I had to look at alternative energy sources. I think there are many farmers can be very dubious about renewable energy because there are so many different companies out there so the choice is varied and it’s hard to know who to trust. Amber Green Solar, a division of Amber Green Energy, installed my system and I am more than content that with everything that has been done and I am even happier that there’s a five year pay back which essentially is what every business wants. You want a five year return.”
Mr Maxwell said there are over 400 farmers in Northern Ireland with chicken houses who are facing the challenge of rising energy bills. Poultry farmers will always have to use large amounts of light because birds respond to light energy in a variety of ways including growth and reproductive performance.
He said: “But it’s not only poultry farmers who have to use a lot of light. Dairy farmers use a lot of electric as well. I have 10 houses but there are several other farmers with five, six and seven houses to light and heat. It is big money and I am hoping this system which I have in will provide me with a good 15-20 years of cutting my energy bills in half, maybe even more.”
Robert McNeill, Director of Amber Green Solar, is receiving an increasing number of calls from farmers, particularly poultry farmers.
He said: “Last week at Solar Hub 1 we spoke with the First Minister Peter Robinson and MP David Simpson about rising energy bills. We spoke about the rising bills farmers are facing and he agreed that times were challenging but reiterated that the Executive would be doing everything in its power to help. Mr Robinson was told about the systems which we can provide to help farmers generate their own electricity which also gives them the option of selling electricity back to the grid.
“Fred’s system is excellent because not only can he claim an income from the ROC scheme but he is also connected to the grid so any electricity which he doesn’t use can be sold to the grid. As a poultry farmer he will be using a lot of the energy himself but the option is always there for him to sell it to the grid.”
For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of McGillie Media & PR on 028 3756 9863 | 07709805379 | PR Public Relations Northern Ireland
Notes To Editor:
- Amber Green Energy is an industry leader in green energy solutions in Northern Ireland. The company has bases in Armagh and Belfast. It adopts a dynamic approach to project funding, combined with proven technologies, ensures excellent returns on investments from renewable, sustainable power generation. Amber Green helps clients navigate green energy legislation and access to sustainable energy revenues. Amber Green Energy helps clients with the planning and design of sustainable green energy technologies for anaerobic digestion, wind power generation, combined heat and power and solar panels – photovoltaics. Amber Green Solar is a subsidiary of Amber Green Energy.
- Solar Hub 1 is a learning hub in Belfast dedicated to solar energy and was officially opened by First Minister Peter Robinson and Upper Bann MP David Simpson