Farmers, their land and their livestock have kept us alive since man first learned to domesticate animals.
Now, if they can grasp it, they have an additional critical role in keeping the planet powered-up. Many forward-thinking farmers are already tapping into the potential of energy generation and we’ve played our part in making that happen, but it seems there may be much more they can collectively offer.
According to a report by the not-for-profit Forum for the Future there could be 10GW of untapped renewable energy potential on UK farms alone.
If it could be accessed, that kind of input would make a significant difference to our country’s energy future. In fact, the report says 10GW should be easy, with 20GW also perfectly in reach.
We’re not talking about taking land out of food production and swapping it for energy crops, this is about complimentary use of technology, adding wind turbines, roof and ground-based solar and anaerobic digesters. Ground-based solar panels can exist alongside livestock, which can graze around it and even use the shade it offers.
A 10GW boost from farm-based renewables would amount to three times the predicted output from the planned nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point. It would cost far less, be clean and have the added benefit that the investment in generation would be spread across individual businesses, not a heavily government-subsidised energy industry.
Obviously it’s not all so straightforward. As the report points out, reliable grid connections would be a stumbling block in many places, but that is a problem that can be solved – without costs that come close to building nuclear plants.
It’s a vision that we would, as a nation, be bonkers not to pursue with vigour and at 7Energy we can think of nothing more satisfying than playing our part in building the infrastructure.