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The field pledge opportunity

Gerry Lalonde, CEO, Orenda Energy Solutions explains to PES that Farmers have a great opportunity to ‘pledge a field’ and reap a financial windfall through small wind renewables.

Farmers are having a bad time of it. Many have witnessed a fall in income due to the recent spate of bad weather. There is the worry, too, about how a ‘bad’ Brexit might unfold, with fruit farmers across the country particularly concerned about future harvests and how their reliance on migrant workers might impact on their industry.

I’d like to think, however, that small wind renewable energy might help farmers add a few thousand pounds a year to their incomes and they need do nothing more than offer a field or small piece of land to see that come a reality.

The UK has remained an attractive proposition for inward investment in the country’s small wind energy industry and there are farming communities across the country already bringing in extra income from this enterprising initiative, with farmers looking beyond their traditional arable, livestock and dairy revenue streams, but much needs to be done now to get more farmers to realise this huge investment potential.

Farmers need to maximise land use and with a ‘per-turbine’ windfall of anything between £1,500 and £2,000 per annum index linked for 20 years up for grabs, it makes long-term good economic sense for farmers to lease a small piece of their land for small wind turbine investors, more so as the vagaries of our climate with occasional poor harvests, unusually harsh weather and dramatically rising energy costs can take their annual toll on a cash-strapped farming and rural economy.

What happens to the farming industry in the aftermath of Brexit remains an unknown quantity, with the UK Government yet to thrash out agreements on policy, levies, quotas and ultimately, trying to secure the very best deal, but how much confidence will farmers have in seeing the long-term benefits of any arrangement? That’s why by acting now to create these additional income streams by offering up a spare field to house a small sub-50kW wind turbine, will deliver regular income –That’s not a bad proposition in anyone’s book.

Moreover, for any farmer, this is a win/win situation. In addition to the accruable rental – and with minimal loss of use of the land at all, the farmer can make use of the green energy produced on-site by any wind turbine.

This significantly drops their overall energy costs and safeguards them against future energy price. Moreover, the farmer can, if he wishes, be ‘locked in’ to a 20-year low cost green electricity deal.

And despite this widespread belief that almost every farmer in the land has turned to renewable wind energy, the reality is that only a very small percentage of farms, utilise wind energy and the cash revenue it generates.

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