Greenbuy Energy has taken advantage of a change in law last April that rules that commercial property owners, including farmers, can now have solar panels installed on their land without the need for planning permission.

As a result, the Sheffield-based renewables company has stepped into the agricultural sector after securing a deal with farmer Stephen Woodward, owner of Poplar Farm in Woodall, Sheffield.

Greenbuy Energy Business Partner, Russell Paul said: “The need for planning permission is something which has deterred farmers from solar energy in the past, but this is now no longer a concern for them.

“As energy bills continue to soar more and more farmers are becoming interested in ways to save money and, for many, photovoltaic systems are a great option.”

The 200 acre, arable farm will have 40 monocrystalline solar panels of 250 watts each fitted to one of the farm’s south-facing barns.

Woodward, the farm’s owner, said: “There are always economic constraints and pressures on farmers, and as a 200 acre arable site we use a lot of electricity which obviously results in sizeable bills.

“This has been a family farm for around 120 years so its future is very important to me. These solar panels are a long term investment that will pay back the cost of their installation quickly and then make money for the farm as they generate power.

“It makes a great deal of business sense and will go a long way to helping secure the financial future of the farm.”

Greenbuy Energy predicts that the farm’s solar panels will have an average annual return on investment of 18.34 per cent, and within less than eight and a half years they will have generated enough revenue to pay for themselves.

Paul said: “The size of the system we are installing on Stephen’s property means that his energy savings will be particularly large. Many farmers have sizeable plots of land or numerous buildings, which means they can have more solar panels fitted to make even bigger savings.”