Electrical energy use on dairy farms
Electricity bills on dairy farms may not represent a major proportion of the costs of milk production. However, electricity costs have increased significantly in recent years as a consequence of higher oil prices. As electricity is consumed day and daily there are opportunities to improve electrical efficiency, particularly as new technologies become available. However, this often involves capital expenditure, which may or may not be justified, depending on the savings possible against the money spent. CAFRE have developed energy efficiency decision support tools that a farmer can populate with information bespoke to their farm, to enable an informed decision to be made. A CAFRE ‘variable speed vacuum pump’ decision support tool is on the DAERA Online Services website.
CAFRE Dairy Centre
With the construction of the new Dairy Centre at Greenmount Campus CAFRE, emphasis was placed on installing energy efficient milking equipment. A data capture system was installed to allow real time monitoring of various parameters related to the milking equipment, such as milk temperatures pre and post plate cooler. This information, along with electrical metering of most of the installed electrical equipment has enabled a detailed analysis of energy consumption from the parlour to the bulk tank. Lights are often the overlooked ‘elephant in the living room’. With new developments in lighting such as LED’s and computer lighting design programs available, there are many more options to consider than has been the case in the past. For more information view the downloadable PDF’s at the base of this webpage.
Electrical energy efficiency technologies and opportunities to optimise energy efficiency of equipment on dairy farms include the following:
- Heat recovery systems
- High efficiency lights/bulbs
- High flow rate plate cooling systems
- Insulation of water heaters
- Optimising bulk milk tank cleaning systems
- Optimising bulk milk tank compressors
- Optimising milking parlour cleaning systems
- Optimising plate cooling systems
- Timer switches
- Variable speed vacuum pumps