Solar power can be a new cash-crop for farmers and industry alike


Sheep and solar power can work together. Picture reproduced with thanks to Lightsource Renewable Energy
Sheep and solar power can work together. Picture reproduced with thanks to Lightsource Renewable Energy

New guidance published today by the BRE National Solar Centre promotes best practice in coupling conventional agriculture and ground-mounted solar electricity generation.

The new guide, compiled in partnership with the National Farmers Union and a number of leading solar companies explains, how solar farms can easily be combined with free-range chicken and poultry raising and the grazing of sheep.

The guidance makes clear that the addition of a solar array does not require a reduction in the number of animals – once the plant is built farmers can continue to graze sheep at normal stocking density. Once the solar farm is in place, 95% of a field is still accessible to vegetation growth and agricultural use.

Jonny Williams, Director of the BRE National Solar Centre, said: As more farmers look for alternative ways to supplement their traditional income, it’s become vital that definitive advice is made available for the agri-community.

“Working in partnership with the solar industry and the NFU we have produced a valuable guide that sets out best practice for the integration of solar farms with conventional agriculture, ensuring that farmers get a year-round ‘solar harvest’ to supplement their regular business.”

Guy Smith, Vice-President, NFU, added: It is clear that renewable energy can support profitable farming, underpinning traditional agricultural production with additional returns that make businesses more resilient.

“Only a negligible land take is required to make a major contribution to Britain’s clean energy needs, so the future looks bright for solar grazed lamb and free-range solar chicken.”

One farmer said: “Solar power is environmentally friendly and it suits the farm industry very much because it gives a secure regular income.

“That’s very important to me and to other farmers as the industry is struggling at the moment to make ends meet. It’s a lifeline. With solar panels you can run sheep, as I do. It’s very quiet, you don’t know it’s there, and it’s generating power for the local community.”

Read the ‘Agricultural Good Practice Guidance for Solar Farms’ report here

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