A recent survey conducted by Farming Futures and Solarcentury has found that 80% of farmers in the UK want to have solar photovoltaics installation on their roofs within the next three years. These results prove that farmers’ interest in generating renewable electricity has increased dramatically since the launch of the feed-in tariff (FiT), which was launched in April this year.

Recent press coverage has concentrated on the issue of solar installations on farmland and open fields; however the survey’s findings indicate that just under 20% of farmers considering solar want it at this scale, with the majority considering the technology for large farm buildings.

However, while the survey did outline the success of the FiT, it did also highlight farmers’ relatively poor understanding of how the subsidy mechanism works. Only 55.2% understood to what extent they could actually earn from the FiT while 25.4% thought payment was only for generation, or export (19.4%).

Dr. Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Advisor, 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.”

Stephen Frankel, a farmer from Wadebridge said, “We installed solar PV on our barn roof this year, and immediately starting saving on our bills and earning extra income thanks to the FiT. Traditionally, farming revenue is quite seasonal, but now we’re making money by creating clean energy we have the peace of mind of another income, and we’re doing our bit reducing our carbon footprint. I’d recommend any farmer to consider this – our land brings us so much value, so why not our roofs?”

Derry Newman, CEO, Solarcentury said, “Sustainable farming is at the core of a healthy future for the UK, and it’s 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 are:

*88.1% of Farmers are currently considering renewables on their farm.

*Since the introduction of the FiT in April 2010, 83.2% of farmers have considered renewables; as the financial incentive secures a return on investment for 25 years.

*Of those considering renewables, an overwhelming 93.3% are interested in solar PV, with wind energy as the second choice.

*Of those who have already invested in renewables, only 28.6% have done so in PV; but 85.7% are now considering it.

*82.2% of farmers are considering solar PV (93.3% of those interested in renewables (88.1%))

*80.6% of those surveyed are considering solar on a roof.

*89.8% 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

*However, only 55.2% 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 (25.4%) thought payment was only for generation, or export (19.4%).