• Energy demand on dairy farms in Ireland

      Upton, John; Humphreys, James; Groot Koerkamp, Peter W. G.; French, Padraig; Dillon, Pat; de Boer, Imke J. M.; INTERREG IVB North-West Europe (Elsevier, 2013-08-01)
      Reducing electricity consumption in Irish milk production is a topical issue for 2 reasons. First, the introduction of a dynamic electricity pricing system, with peak and off-peak prices, will be a reality for 80% of electricity consumers by 2020. The proposed pricing schedule intends to discourage energy consumption during peak periods (i.e., when electricity demand on the national grid is high) and to incentivize energy consumption during off-peak periods. If farmers, for example, carry out their evening milking during the peak period, energy costs may increase, which would affect farm profitability. Second, electricity consumption is identified in contributing to about 25% of energy use along the life cycle of pasture-based milk. The objectives of this study, therefore, were to document electricity use per kilogram of milk sold and to identify strategies that reduce its overall use while maximizing its use in off-peak periods (currently from 0000 to 0900h). We assessed, therefore, average daily and seasonal trends in electricity consumption on 22 Irish dairy farms, through detailed auditing of electricity-consuming processes. To determine the potential of identified strategies to save energy, we also assessed total energy use of Irish milk, which is the sum of the direct (i.e., energy use on farm) and indirect energy use (i.e., energy needed to produce farm inputs). On average, a total of 31.73 MJ was required to produce 1kg of milk solids, of which 20% was direct and 80% was indirect energy use. Electricity accounted for 60% of the direct energy use, and mainly resulted from milk cooling (31%), water heating (23%), and milking (20%). Analysis of trends in electricity consumption revealed that 62% of daily electricity was used at peak periods. Electricity use on Irish dairy farms, therefore, is substantial and centered around milk harvesting. To improve the competitiveness of milk production in a dynamic electricity pricing environment, therefore, management changes and technologies are required that decouple energy use during milking processes from peak periods.
    • A mechanistic model for electricity consumption on dairy farms: Definition, validation, and demonstration

      Upton, John; Murphy, Michael D.; Shalloo, Laurence; Groot Koerkamp, Peter W.G.; De Boer, Imke J.M.; INTERREG IVB North-West Europe (Elsevier, 2014-06-07)
      Our objective was to define and demonstrate a mechanistic model that enables dairy farmers to explore the impact of a technical or managerial innovation on electricity consumption, associated CO2 emissions, and electricity costs. We, therefore, (1) defined a model for electricity consumption on dairy farms (MECD) capable of simulating total electricity consumption along with related CO2 emissions and electricity costs on dairy farms on a monthly basis; (2) validated the MECD using empirical data of 1 yr on commercial spring calving, grass-based dairy farms with 45, 88, and 195 milking cows; and (3) demonstrated the functionality of the model by applying 2 electricity tariffs to the electricity consumption data and examining the effect on total dairy farm electricity costs. The MECD was developed using a mechanistic modeling approach and required the key inputs of milk production, cow number, and details relating to the milk-cooling system, milking machine system, water-heating system, lighting systems, water pump systems, and the winter housing facilities as well as details relating to the management of the farm (e.g., season of calving). Model validation showed an overall relative prediction error (RPE) of less than 10% for total electricity consumption. More than 87% of the mean square prediction error of total electricity consumption was accounted for by random variation. The RPE values of the milk-cooling systems, water-heating systems, and milking machine systems were less than 20%. The RPE values for automatic scraper systems, lighting systems, and water pump systems varied from 18 to 113%, indicating a poor prediction for these metrics. However, automatic scrapers, lighting, and water pumps made up only 14% of total electricity consumption across all farms, reducing the overall impact of these poor predictions. Demonstration of the model showed that total farm electricity costs increased by between 29 and 38% by moving from a day and night tariff to a flat tariff.