The Dairy Energy Decision Support Tool (DEDST) aims to quantify and reduce dairy farm electricity consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and production costs through data analysis and mathematical modelling. It is estimated that farmers can save up to €1,800 per year by alerting their energy management strategies and using energy efficient technology on the farm. The tool is separated into two sub-sections:

Technology Calculator

This is a decision support tool, engineered to predict specific dairy farm electricity consumption, CO2 emissions and cost, both in real-world and hypothetical scenarios. This allows for the calculation of potential payback periods and cost savings attributed to the installation of energy technologies such as variable speed drives (VSD) for milking machines, solar PV panels, solar thermal, heat recovery and wind turbines, on a farm-to-farm basis. For accurate calculations, some information regarding specific dairy farm operations is required as the impact of installing a particular technology can be greatly affected. Without this information, the cost savings of a particular technology may be over-estimated, resulting in reduced profit for farmers. Concurrently, varying levels of investment cost, grand aid and inflation rates may be analysed to calculate their impact on the overall return on investment.

Energy Consumption

This section provides a comprehensive summary of electricity consumption data from an exhaustive audit of Irish dairy farms where remote data recording commenced in 2008. Electricity consumption, cost and related carbon emissions are broken down according to each dairy farm electricity consuming process relative to both milk production and per dairy cow and displayed in easily read, downloadable plots. Similarly, this breakdown is available per month, highlighting the trend in consumption throughout the year. Variable electricity consumption cost figures may be analysed according to either a day and night or flat rate pricing structure.

The tool has been developed as part of a collaboration between CIT, Teagasc, and SEAI.

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