Saturday, 9 June 2012

Renewable energy schemes help boost farmers' profits
4 Jun 2012

More than a quarter of all farmers have not just green fields but "green" barns too, thanks to a surge in the use of solar panels and wind turbines.

Renewable energy is promising to overtake rural tourism as a secondary income for the agricultural sector, with 200 MWs of power-enough for 40,000 households-installed, according to joint research by the National Farmers' Union (NFU) and NatWest bank. They found that one in six farmers will have solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in place by the middle of this year and one in five will be producing clean electricity by this date. If this trend continues, as much as 15% of all UK electricity from renewable sources come from the land by the end of this decade, they believe.

Jonathan Scurlock, chief renewable energy adviser to the NFU, 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", he added. The results also showed that a higher proportion of farmers in the south of England (20%) and Wales (21%) were using solar installations, in comparison to the north. The uptake of wind turbines was about the same across England and Wales with around 5%-6% in each area.

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