Over 80% of farmers want solar roofs by 2013

A recent survey has found that 80 per cent of farmers in the UK want to have solar photovoltaics on their roofs within the next three years.

Carried out by Farming Futures, and solar energy specialist, Solarcentury, the results prove farmers’ interest in generating clean electricity has soared following the launch of the Feed-In Tariff (FIT).

Findings indicate just under 20 per cent of farmers considering solar want it in fields, with 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 per cent 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 thought payment was only for generation, or export.

The findings indicate a move towards solar on farm roofs nether the less. It reflects a wider trend across Europe, where the Feed-In Tariff 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.

Conducted online and at Farming Futures events, the survey collected results from over 130 farmers across the country from September to November 2010.

Dr. Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Advisor for Renewable Energy and Climate Change at the 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.”

Madeleine Lewis, of Farming Futures, added: “This survey shows that on-farm building solar PV is likely to become commonplace in the not-too-distant future. We have seen a real appetite for investing in solar this year, and it’s great to see so many farmers recognising this opportunity to create an income and diversify – as well as contribute to developing a low carbon economy in the UK. Our recent events held to help farmers understand how to go solar have been hugely popular.”

Derry Newman, CEO, Solarcentury said: “Sustainable farming is at the core of a healthy future for the UK, and its 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 main findings of the survey include:

  • 88.1 per cent of farmers are currently considering renewables on their farm. Of these 93.3 per cent are interested in solar PV, with wind energy as the second choice.
  • 80.6 per cent of those surveyed are considering solar panels on a roof.
  • 89.8 per cent of those interested in investing in renewables are planning to do so within the next two years, which would enable them to take advantage of the FIT.