Almost 40% of farmers are using clean energy across the UK, compared to just 5% in 2010, according to a new survey. However, the majority feel the full potential of renewables is not being met.
The joint research, Farms as power stations by Nottingham Trent University, Forum for the Future and Farmers Weekly, collected the opinions of around 700 farmers.
Although a large number have chosen to adopt renewable sources of energy – especially solar, wind and biomass energy – 76% believes renewable energy can still achieve a lot more in the agriculture industry.
Professor Eunice Simmons, the dean of Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, said, “It’s very positive news that renewables are becoming more popular with UK farmers – and this trend looks set to continue over the coming years.
“It’s clear, however, that more needs to be done by the government in terms of communicating the benefits, developing a more coherent policy and addressing conflicting messages.”
Among the challenges outlined by respondents are the high investment costs, the planning process and opposition from families and local communities.
Iain Watt, principal sustainability adviser at Forum for the Future, said, “We’d like to see a planning and policy regime that does more to support farm-scale renewables; better financing arrangements; a revamped grid that makes it easy for rural communities to sell their electricity; and an established market for farm-grown green power. We think we can achieve all that and more through coordinated action.”
40% of UK farmers use renewable energy – up from 5% in 2010