Poultry producers are being urged to install renewable energy systems sooner rather than later, so they don’t get caught out by the coalition government’s new Green Deal energy package.

The flagship initiative, announced in the 2011 Energy Act, is expected to come into action later this year and will allow private firms to offer energy efficiency improvements to householders and businesses at no upfront cost and recoup payments through a charge in instalments on energy bills.

But advising producers on renewable energy projects at this year’s Pig and Poultry Fair, James Miles-Hobbs, a renewable energy consultant from Rural Development Associates Ltd, said it was highly likely the deal could mean that EPC ratings (Energy Performance Certificate) will apply to the Renewable Heat Incentive.

This could make it harder for producers to be eligible for RHI, unless they have a good EPC rating of D or higher.

A similar requirement was introduced for Feed-in Tariffs earlier this year.

“When the Green Deal comes along don’t be surprised if EPC does apply to the RHI. Get on and install now,” he said.

Mr Miles-Hobbs also advised producers to use as much energy as they could from solar PV systems to ensure best value for money.

“The more electricity you can use yourself, the better return you will get,” he said.

Currently electricity is costing 10-12p/kWh, while the electricity producers don’t use is being sold back to the grid for just 4p/kWh, so the more self-sufficient producers can be the better, he advised.

“So if you can’t use the electricity on the farm, it goes out into the grid and you only get paid 4p/kWh, but if you use it yourself you can save 10-12p.”

During the session he gave the audience top tips on saving energy and choosing the right system.

“Think about saving energy first, it could give you a six to eight-month payback, which is a lot better than six to eight years,” Mr Miles-Hobbs advised, referring to a broiler farm which had saved £4,000 just by changing their light bulbs.

He said audit tests to check project viability and profiling energy use to gauge seasonal trends were key to help producers select the best system to suit their enterprise.

“The bad thing about being a pig or poultry producer is that you use a lot of energy, but the good is that you will have a fairly substantial line [grid connection] already,” he said.