The UK government has recently announced plans for how electricity and renewable energy will be produced, stored and used in Britain.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is calling for the Utility Regulator, NIE (Northern Ireland Electricity) Networks and SONI (part of the Eirgrid group) to follow this example in Northern Ireland.

The Deputy President of the UFU, Ivor Ferguson, spoke on the matter, stating: “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.

Small-scale renewable generation, by its nature, produces energy on an intermittent basis. This is often at night when it cannot be utilised 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,” Ferguson added.

Power supply has to meet demand; power could go out if this doesn’t happen. The UFU has announced that it is of the view that on-farm energy storage would help tackle this fundamental challenge.

The organisation says the storage debate needs to be accelerated if small-scale renewable energy enterprises are to be sustainable.

“The government has decided to take action in Britain. We need to see the same happening here, in the shape of a debate on the effective storage of energy and heat,” Ferguson noted.

The deputy president said that a key decision in the UK 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,” Ferguson concluded.