In a few years’ time, we’ll all have smart energy meters in our homes. They’re a great new development, as these devices give private individuals – and farms – more information about their energy consumption. At the moment, we’re all still pretty much in the dark about our usage. We get our bill at the end of the year, and sometimes we’re startled because it’s more than we expected. But at present we can only guess at what’s responsible for those higher charges.
Smart meters will change all of this. They record our electricity and gas usage every 15 minutes and every hour respectively. So you can see when you’re consuming more or less energy. And a very useful feature with these meters is that you can compare the data they collect with other users who have businesses similar to your own.
The energy-neutral pig farm
For the farmers affiliated with our chain, this is a welcome development, because they’re working towards energy-neutral pig farming. Which is not only great for the environment, but also – and this is an important consideration – it saves them money. To achieve energy-neutral pig farming, we’ve set strict standards for our chain. Our farmers are monitored annually on this aspect of their business. If a farmer doesn’t meet the standards set by the Keten Duurzaam Varkensvlees (KDV – Sustainable Pork Value Chain), we’ll talk about how to tackle the issue. We give advice, but they decide which improvements they want to make on their farms for themselves. However, the KDV does more than just advise. We support the farmers as well, to make it easier for them to meet the necessary objectives.
When the smart meters come in, it will of course be much easier to take the appropriate action. That’s why we’re giving our farmers the chance to be early adopters. We’re doing this in collaboration with environmental consultants Ploos van Amstel, who’ve developed a special web application that allows them to present and analyse the electricity and gas usage data recorded.
We’ll soon be offering workshops for our farmers, where they can present the data they’ve recorded and compare one another’s usage in order to map out the differences. This will give every farmer greater insight into their own energy use and that of others. Say a farmer has a similar pig farm to someone else in the workshop, but their energy use is considerably higher than the other person’s. The data might show that the farmer is maybe leaving too much equipment on at the same time, creating a peak in consumption. Their energy use would probably be lower if it was more spaced out. Or perhaps a farmer will discover that their ventilation system is working twice as hard because it’s not in the ideal location. If so, savings can be quickly made.