Our recent survey has found that 80% of farmers in the UK want to have solar photovoltaics on their roofs within the next three years. The results prove farmers’ interest in generating clean electricity has soared following the launch of the Feed-in tariff (FIT) back in April. Recent publicity has centred on the popularity of solar photovoltaics in fields; however findings indicate that just under 20% of farmers considering solar want it at this scale, the majority considering the technology for large farm buildings.
However, the survey showed a relatively poor understanding of how the Feed-in tariff worked and the incentives offered. Only 55.2% understood to what extent they could actually earn from the FIT; being paid for all electricity generated and consumed, as well as that exported. The remainder (25.4%) thought payment was only for generation, or export (19.4%).
The findings indicate a move towards solar on farm roofs, similar to Glastonbury Festival’s Michael Eavis who installed photovoltaics on his cow shed earlier this year. It reflects a wider trend across Europe, where the FIT has been successful in encouraging farmers, amongst others, to diversify production with on-roof solar energy for a number of years, leading to energy efficiency and the reduction of grid electricity consumption.
Dr. Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Advisor, Renewable Energy and Climate Change, National Farmers' Union said: "These findings certainly reflect what our members have been saying. Agricultural and horticultural buildings present ideal platforms for solar PV, and small-to-medium sized roof-mounted systems are likely to be an attractive investment. It's hugely encouraging to see our farming industry become stronger through the generation of power, and helping this country reduce its reliance on fossil fuels."
Stephen Frankel, from Wadebridge, is one of the many farmers starting to go solar "We installed solar PV on our barn roof this year, and immediately starting saving on our bills and earning extra income thanks to the FIT. Traditionally, farming revenue is quite seasonal, but now we’re making money by creating clean energy we have the peace of mind of another income, and we’re doing our bit reducing our carbon footprint. I’d recommend any farmer to consider this – our land brings us so much value, so why not our roofs?”
Derry Newman, CEO, Solarcentury said: “Sustainable farming is at the core of a healthy future for the UK, and it’s great to see farmers recognising the opportunity they now have with solar. Solarcentury has helped hundreds of commercial organisations and farmers across Europe go solar and we welcome the opportunity to now help UK farmers get maximum return from their property. Solar power is a sophisticated active industrial building product designed to work with business.”
The survey was carried out by Farming Futures and solar energy specialist Solarcentury.
To read the full press release and see the rest of the results of the survey, please click here.
Madeleine Lewis is a Strategic Advisor for Farming Futures