Research highlights renewables opportunities for farmers

Wind and marine trade body RenewableUK has welcomed the publication of new research from the “Farm as Power Station” project, involving Nottingham Trent University, Forum for the Future and Farmers Weekly, showing the increasing importance to farmers of renewable energy.

Of the 700 farmers who responded to a survey, 40 per cent are now using renewables, compared to only 5 per cent identified in a DEFRA survey in 2010. Of those who don’t currently generate renewable energy on their farms, 61 per cent say they are likely to invest in energy generation in the next five years, meaning we could shortly see up to three out of four farmers using renewable energy. Of those who already use renewable technologies, nearly a third choose wind (30 per cent), boosting the world-leading British small wind industry.

Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “This important new research shows just how valuable renewable energy is to farmers at a tough time for crop yields. Farmers have always worked with the countryside and depend on the weather to make their living, and it’s good to see small-scale wind turbines playing their part in this. The UK’s small wind industry leads the world, and there’s a beautiful synchronicity in turbines manufactured in Loughborough turning in fields in Lincolnshire.”

The research also flagged the huge future potential for the small and medium-scale wind sector with 61 per cent of farmers who don’t currently use renewable energy stating they would be most likely to invest in wind.

However, the research did point to problems that those seeking to utilise our abundant natural resources face, with eight out of ten farmers calling for a consistent government policy, and more than half stating the cumbersome and costly planning process is a problem.

Maf Smith added: “With 76 per cent of farmers still believing the potential for renewable energy is not being met, it’s clear that there are a lot of opportunities out there for further development. A consistent rate of support for small and medium-sized wind turbines, and consistent and predictable planning decisions, to help our British industry really establish itself, could ensure that even more farmers are helped to make the most of their natural resources.”