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On farm energy generation is the way forward, says NFU


Every farmer and grower in Britain should have the opportunity to provide low-carbon energy services alongside their traditional roles in food production, a major conference will hear today.

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, the NFUs chief renewable energy adviser, will be one of the keynote speakers at On-Farm Energy Generation – a two day event at Stoneleigh Park addressing the critical issues surrounding land-based energy. The conference will focus on ways farmers can secure revenue streams from land-based energy projects. Anaerobic digestion, biomass, hydro, wind and solar will be covered alongside general planning and policy developments.

Earlier this week news emerged that dairy farmer Michael Eavis is building the UKs biggest private solar electricity system at Worthy Farm in Somerset the home of the Glastonbury music festival. By August, 1,100 solar panels will be situated on top of the dairy unit generating 200kW of power.

Dr Scurlock said: Interest from the agricultural industry in the renewable energy sector has increased dramatically in recent years. The NFU would like to see farmers and growers evaluate and hopefully emulate Michael Eaviss move if its right for them. Agricultural and horticultural buildings present ideal platforms for solar panels and small-to-medium sized roof-mounted systems are likely to be an attractive investment.  The South West, particularly Cornwall, and the South, may offer the highest energy and financial returns. If you want to be more hands-off, there are a growing number of companies wanting to rent roof space for solar panels.

Many of our members are already used to diversifying their businesses and renewable energy offers the next step in this process. However, there is no one type of renewable energy project that is most suited to farms. There are many different financial packages and it’s a question of what works for each individual business.

Government incentive payments such as the Feed-In Tariffs are making renewables an increasing attractive investment to manage energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. At only 2.5 per cent contribution, the UK is bottom of the EU renewable energy league at the moment. The European Renewable Energy Directive means that we will see a seven-fold increase in renewables over the next 10 years.

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