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Farmers embrace renewable energy, survey shows

According to new figures, more than three quarters of farmers don’t feel the potential for on-farm renewable energy is being met.

The Farm as Power Station research involving Nottingham Trent University, Forum for the Future and Farmers Weekly has shown a rapid increase in the number of farmers embracing energy production in the last three years.

Almost 40 per cent of those who responded to the survey are now using renewables.

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.

Yet, while the survey shows a shift towards farmers becoming energy producers as well as food producers, 76 per cent still don’t believe the potential for renewable energy is being met.

The survey participants identified a number of hurdles towards fulfiling this potential: 84 per cent saw high investment costs as the biggest problem and more than half found the ‘red tape’ (53 per cent) and cumbersome and costly planning process (52 per cent) to be barriers. Some 45 per cent found opposition from family or community to be a problem.

More than three quarters (80 per cent) of farmers said that a consistent government policy was important in adopting renewable energy practices.

The survey for the project involved gathering responses from farmers across the country. It showed that the most popular technology currently being used by farmers were solar (66 per cent), wind (30 per cent) and biomass for heat (21 per cent).

More than half of farmers (53 per cent) had invested in renewable energy for both household and on-farm use and to sell the energy to the open market.

It is hoped that the findings will stimulate discussions and debates and help identify ways to remove the barriers to the uptake of sustainable farm-based energy generation practices across the UK.

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