The UK currently has a great opportunity to meet up to 7% of its electricity demand from sustainable farm-based renewable energy by 2020, creating investment and jobs in struggling farming communities who urgently need both. Read our recent report showing how there is at least 10GW of untapped resource across UK farms – and that it’s quite easy to get up to 20GW if we embrace ground-based solar.
But while the potential is huge the barriers to scale are many: from getting connected to the grid, gaining political support to accessing finance and the right information. Without co-ordinated and concerted effort to tackle these problems, many opportunities will be lost - which is why Forum for the Future, the NFU and other influential organisations set up Farm Power in 2012, acting together to put agriculture on the grid.
What Farm Power is doing
By convening multiple organisations from across agricultural and energy sectors, Farm Power provides a much needed collective and co-ordinated response to contributing towards a low-carbon energy system.
Our ambition is therefore to unlock critical barriers to progress through:
- Collaboration: Building a powerful and effective coalition of businesses and civil society
- Vision: Uniting stakeholders around a shared, evidence based vision
- Implementation: Delivering a set of work streams to tackle key barriers to farm-based energy
- Communication: Enabling farmers to share learning and collectively find their best solutions.
Work programme for 2015/2016
Our four key activity areas for 2015-2016 are designed to collectively enable a more supportive environment for farm power generation. These are:
- Grid connections
- Policy intervention
Latest news 17 June 2015
The grid is a key barrier for distributed energy generation, and it urgently needs addressing to facilitate more capacity and diverse entrants. Distribution networks are close to full capacity in many parts of the country. Farmers and rural community energy groups face uncertainty over the cost, speed and complexity of connecting to the grid to export power. We want to work together to change this.
See our response to Ofgem’s consultation quicker and more efficient grid connections on behalf of a coalition of organisations. We are still seeking further evidence to take further action. If you've not already, will you take the survey to have your say in shaping the future of grid connections?
“This is a great initiative we are delighted to support. Farms and rural communities can make a significant contribution to the sustainable energy mix but we need to collaborate to make it happen.”
Neil Hughes, Head of Technology, National Grid
“The Farm Power coalition is such an important initiative. It is bringing together key players in the industry to help provide direction to unlocking some of the many barriers that are currently impeding uptake, as well as a vision to the potential that farms could deliver for the UK. It’s in all our interests to get behind this and champion the benefits, and opportunity, that renewable energy technologies can bring to society and farming.”
Lord Curry, Chair of Waitrose's flagship farm, Leckford Estates
The Steering Group
Farm Power is guided by a Steering Group, convened by Forum, which includes the following organisations and individuals drawn from across the farming and renewable energy sectors, academia and civil society:
Members of the Steering Group have the opportunity to attend quarterly meetings to: share insights and knowledge; develop and shape the project work plan, and explore shared solutions to identified barriers to create a better landscape for farm based renewables.
Our project partners are critical to funding Farm Power, shaping the work programme and delivering on the outcomes. If you would like to know more about the project and how you could get involved, please get in touch with Nicky Conway
- Read our Collaboration Guidebook: initiating, building and managing collaborations for long-term success
- Giles Bristow speaks to Charlotte Smith at BBC Farming Today, available to listen on iPlayer until 22 December 2014
- Find out more about our communication campaign with Farmers Weekly
- Why farms can help shape the energy systems future - by Neil Hughes, Head of Technology, National Grid
- Some friendly advice for the Secretary of State - by Jonathon Porritt
- What role could – and should – farms play in a sustainable energy system? - by Iain Watt
- "Wind turbines on farms can help UK meet food and energy needs" - Nicky Conway talks to BBC News
- Watch the Farming Futures video case study about Richard Gedge's farm where he generates energy from wind and biomass
- The many sunny sides of solar, by Iain Watt
Top image: Tom and Jilie Mellor, Hunmanby Grange Farm, courtesy of RenewableUK