EVERY farmer and grower in Britain should have the opportunity to provide low-carbon energy services alongside their traditional roles, a major conference heard last week.

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, National Farmers’ Union chief renewable energy adviser, was speaking at the On-Farm Energy Generation Conference addressing vital issues surrounding land-based energy.

The conference focused on ways farmers can secure revenue streams from land-based energy projects. Anaerobic digestion, biomass, hydro, wind and solar were covered, as were general planning and policy developments.

Somerset dairy farmer and creator of Glastonbury Festival Michael Eavis is building the UK’s biggest private solar electricity system on his farm. By August, 1,100 solar panels will be situated on top of his dairy unit, generating 200kW of power.

Dr Scurlock said: “Interest from the agricultural industry in the renewable energy sector has increased dramatically in recent years. Agricultural and horticultural buildings present ideal platforms for solar panels and small-to-medium-sized roof-mounted systems are likely to be an attractive investment.

“The south-west may offer the highest energy and financial returns. If farmers want to be more hands-off, there are a growing number of private companies wanting to rent roof space for solar panels.

“Farmers are already used to diversifying, and renewable energy offers the next step in this process.

“Government incentive payments such as the Feed-In Tariffs are making renewables an attractive investment to manage energy costs and reduce the collective carbon footprint.”