Now that the UK feed-in tariff is in place, UK farmers are set for some good news. As opposed to using their cropland for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems, they can use the often-large rooftop surfaces to generate renewable electricity.

By installing rooftop PV system UK farmers have the potential to earn approximately £16,000 a year, saving over £1,800 in electricity bills, with income and savings anticipated by UK installer Solarcentury to be more than £465,000 over 25 years.

By earning 31.4p per kilowatt hour of energy generated, the savings and earnings represent aq return on investment of over 9% for farmerscreating an additional, guaranteed revenue stream. It also helps future-proof against rising electricity prices, which is crucial for power intensive farming.

Stephen Frankel, from Wadebridge, installed solar on his small-holding in May 2010. “We installed solar PV on our barn roof a month ago, and we immediately starting saving on our bills and earning extra income thanks to the feed-in tariff. 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?”

Solarcentury reports that solar PV roofs have proved popular with farmers across Europe since the introduction of feed-in tariffs in a number of countriesover recent years. In France, since the FiT was introduced in 2008, solar PV has become a common choice on farms. 

Mr and Mrs Jean-Noël Simard are poultry farmers from Burgundy in France, who installed 470 solar panels on their barns in April 2010. “Our Solarcentury Energy Roof is an excellent way of diversifying revenue streams for farmers like us. The feed-in tariff makes solar a sound investment with which we can protect ourselves against rising electricity prices while saving many tonnes of C02 emissions too. Solar PV is simply the best way to upgrade your farm.”

Derry Newman, CEO, Solarcentury said, “Sustainable farming is at the core of a healthy future for the UK. Solarcentury has helped hundreds of commercial organisations and farmers across Europe go solar, and as the most experienced British solar PV company, we welcome the opportunity to nowhelp UKfarmers get maximum return from their property.  Through our work with the agricultural and construction industries our dedicated R&D team have developed our ‘Energy Roof’.  Solar power is no longer just about bolting a few bulky panels to your roof, it’s a sophisticated, guaranteed, active industrial building productdesigned towork with your business.”

Since the best rates for installing solar power are only available in the next few years in the UK, farmers are nowactive in introducing renewable energy to their businesses. Solarcentury estimates that the average space needed for a solar roof is between 100 – 200 m2  and a typical 60kWp system produces 51,000 units of electricity a year which is vital for the power demands of today’s farming.