Commercial Solar PV for Farms
Government moves to make the planning process for Commercial Solar PV for farms simpler will ensure that farmers can now reap the benefits of renewable energy.
The measures were implemented on 6th April 2012 and have proved to be a development that has regenerated the agricultural economy.
Planning permission is no longer required for various small-scale renewable energy developments. As a result farmers who were previously dissuaded from investing in solar power because of the bureaucratic red tape, are looking again at the possibilities offered by renewable energy.
This has helped farmers across the country to cut their energy costs and made their output more environmentally friendly, benefiting society as a whole.
This makes the whole concept of Commercial Solar for farms much more realistic for many farm owners, regardless of the amount of land they own.
If a farmer on an average dairy farm invested in a Commercial Solar Installation, it could reduce energy bills by up to a third.
There is also the benefit of earning an income from the generation payments for each kWh and further revenue from selling surplus energy back to the National Grid as part of the government’s Feed In Tariff scheme.
The National Farmers’ Union and the Country Land and Business Association have also praised the developments. There are various other incentives in place to encourage farmers to take the plunge now and invest in Solar Installations:
Barclays Bank set up an initial £100 million fund to aid farmers with their Solar panel installations. Barclays decided to invest in the scheme after surveying farmers and finding widespread enthusiasm for renewable energy: 1 in 3 farmers wanted to generate renewable energy on their farms, as 80% recognised that they could save on energy costs and 60% saw it as being a potential source of additional income.
“Solar photovoltaic technology provides a good return on investment, the cost of installation continues to fall and this is an area that should be explored by landowners looking to create new buildings across all property sectors.”
A dairy farmer in Dorset who has decided to invest in commercial Solar technology is encouraging other farmers to do the same: David Tory is investing £135,000 in 4 solar power systems, which are expected to provide roughly £850,000 in energy savings over the next 25 years. His profit from these projections will be £650,000. He expects to have broken even within five and a half years. “With expected energy costs rising in the future, it’s a bit of a no brainier not to do it,” he said.
The first farmer to pioneer the technology was Michael Eavis, the farmer who runs the Glastonbury festival – he has installed a large solar panel system on the roof of a cow shed which he expects to produce around £50,000 of electricity each year.
The general agreement is that it makes sense to invest: “With 75 per cent of our land in agriculture, farmers are well placed to capture renewable natural energy, while maintaining their traditional role in food production,” says Paul Cottington, environment adviser at the National Farmers’ Union. “We have been using Solar forever, it’s what makes our crops grow, this is just a different way of using it.”
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