There is sufficient untapped renewable energy resources on UK farms to produce the equivalent of three Hinkley Point C-sized nuclear power stations, according to a report launched by the Farm Power coalition.
Research carried out by Forum for the Future, which leads the coalition, and Nottingham Trent University, found there was at least 10GW of untapped resource across UK farms, with some evidence that this “three-nuclear-plant” figure couild easily be doubled with the right public and political backing.
The coalition, which is made up of a growing number of farming bodies, businesses and NGOs, has called on policymakers and other key stakeholders, including supermarkets, to support its farm-based energy vision. A key element of its argument, is that focusing on renewable energy installations in rural locations doesn’t need to conflict with food production.
It’s claimed, in fact, that farm-based energy projects will increase jobs and economic growth for farmers and surrounding communities, while also helping biodiversity, land and water management and other ecosystem services.
Supporters include the National Farmers’ Union, whose chief adviser on renewable energy and climate change, Dr Jonathan Scurlock, commented: “We strongly endorse farm diversification into renewable energy, for export as well as for self-supply, where it supports profitable farming and underpins traditional agricultural production.
“Low-carbon energy production can actually enhance our national food security for only a modest land take, and the additional returns from renewables make farm businesses more resilient and better able to manage volatility in both the weather and in farm prices”.
Forum for the Future project leader, Iain Watt, also commented on the potential for partnership between food and energy production.
“Livestock production can happily co-exist with ground-based solar and/or farm-scale wind,” he said, adding that energy production could also “provide space for the pollinators upon which much food production depends”.
This, he concluded, provided all the justification politicians should need to embrace the farm power revolution.