IT HAS helped develop thousands of small scale renewable electricity generators over the last eight years, but now the feed-in tariff subsidy is coming to an end.

The FiT scheme will close to new applicants on March 31, 2019, meaning that any small scale renewable system installed beyond this date will be done so entirely at the developers' own cost.

In the uncertain world currently facing the agricultural sector, losing such a reliable incentive is a blow, but installers are eager to see as many farmers as possible get signed up before that final deadline – so if you have ever considered utilising some kind of renewable resource to power your business, the next eight months are a time for action.

According to James Storry of Emtec Energy, the widely circulated claim that certain renewable energy technologies have become viable in a subsidy-free world might be true for multi megawatt development achieving huge economies of scale, but farm scale developments designed to meet on-site loads still need all the help they can get to get up and running.

"The virtues of self-generating electricity using renewable resources are as clear as ever – energy independence, cost reduction and protection from rising electricity costs to name but a few," said Mr Storry. "While there has been a substantial reduction in the FiT rates available since the scheme’s inception, material costs have also reduced substantially while electricity prices are rising.

"The result of these ever changing market conditions is that Solar PV systems still represent a fantastic investment with many able to achieve paybacks of six to eight years, followed by decades of reliable renewable energy generation and cost savings.

"The time for making small fortunes from on-site generators may well be passed, and now is the time to start thinking of them as incredibly useful resources rather than bankable financial assets," he suggested. "From an environmental, practical and financial point of view, generating your own electricity has always made sense, and we have always been told ‘there has never been a better time’. The best times may have passed, but the next eight months are the best we have to come."