Denis Naughten told a recently Energy in Agriculture conference that this attitude also misses the point that energy is scarce and costs money.
Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way of reducing energy use and emissions in farms, homes, and businesses, he said, and can be increase incomes for farmers.
The Minister said he would bring the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme to cabinet early in September.
“There are already a number of incentives for energy efficiency equipment available to farmers whose business relates to poultry, pigs and horticulture.
“Depending on the size of the farm, tax incentives are available under the Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA), which is available to farms paying corporate tax. ACA is a tax break which allows businesses to write off the cost of eligible equipment in one year rather than over eight years under conventional accounting rules. One option for smaller farmers to consider is to reclaim VAT on the deployment of electricity micro-generation technologies – such as small scale wind turbines.”
He also said that while tax initiatives are beneficial, the main scheme available to farmers in the energy efficiency space is the Better Energy Communities.
“Better Energy Communities is one of the major funding programmes available through the SEAI to cover energy efficient equipment and is open to all sectors coming together as a community, including the specific farming sectors.”
He also said that the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is about to launch a pilot scheme with dairy farmers in collaboration with Teagasc that will provide funding for Variable Speed Drive (VSD) Vacuum Pumps, VSD milk pumps, Heat Recovery on milk cooling and smart meters.
Under the scheme a fund of €250,000 is available to up to 100 farms this year to upgrade milking equipment and grant aid of 50pc is available to farmers through the scheme.