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One in six farms going solar this summer

A SURVEY conducted by the National Farmers' Union (NFU) and Natwest estimates that 30% of farmers across England and Wales will be taking part in renewable energy production by the end of this summer, 2012.

The research included more than 400 farmers in a first-of its kind partnership between the two organisations.

The results indicate that one in six famers will have a solar photovoltaic array installed by the summer of 2012. A further one in eight farms will install other renewable energy sources leading to one in five farms producing clean electricity.

Ian Burrow, head of agriculture and renewable energy at NatWest said: “This report shows farmers are taking notice of the developments in renewable energy and see a tangible benefit. We’ve already taken steps to help those businesses that see access to finance as a barrier.”

Other findings found that over half felt that gaining planning permission was the biggest barrier to renewable energy projects, with one in three seeing access to finance as a possible issue and one in four finding access to the right information problematic.

39% of farmers surveyed are planning some capital expenditure in 2012- mainly machinery and farm infrastructure. Funding will come from the bank in 42% of cases, from the business itself for 37% and from farmers’ own or family money in 26% of cases.

Of those with no solar or wind projects, 34% believed access to finance was a barrier.

NFU chief renewable energy adviser Jonathan Scurlock said: “The NFU has been encouraging farmers and growers nationwide across all sectors to diversify into renewable energy for the past few years – but we are amazed at this level of uptake already.

“The potential of land-based renewable energy to support profitable farming, while contributing to energy security and the low-carbon economy, is evidently much greater than we ever imagined.”

The findings suggest agriculture will play a prominent part to the UK target of producing 15% of our energy from renewable sources by 2020, as set by the EU Renewable Energy Directive.

 

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About Charlie Kennedy

Having studied Law, English and Philosophy, I went travelling to India for 6 weeks working in orphanages and in a leper colony. I came home and decided to study Journalism. Starting my third and final year this September, I have just been given the fanta... read more