How farmers can plug into renewables…

Longpark Windfarm
Longpark Windfarm

GFW-RENEWABLES is going to give farmers the lowdown on green energy in Kelso next week.

The Northumberland-based company is holding a free seminar on the dos and don’ts of commissioning a wind turbine and solar photovoltaic array (solar power).

Company director Ben Collard said: “With the rising cost of fuel and energy particularly affecting rural areas, generating your own power is looking increasing appealing. However when it comes to successful renewable energy projects, there is a fine line between success and failure.”

Meanwhile NFU Scotland’s new working group on renewables, which includes farmers who have completed projects involving wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion technology met for the first time on Monday.

Its aim will be to help farmers setting up in renewables and highlight issues for the union to pursue.

NFU Scotland vice-president, Allan Bowie, who attended Monday’s meeting, said: “The challenges appear to be many, ranging from the length of time it takes to get planning permission, discrepancies in planning standards between local authorities, feed-in tariffs, grid connection and financing. This working group will help the union to focus on the local and national priorities to assist those interested in on-farm energy generation and avoid frustration.”

NFU Scotland hopes to have a list of key points to give to Scottish Government on problems farmers face.

Mr Bowie continued: “The fact that many on this group have already got to the stage of installing energy projects on-farm means that their experience is hugely valuable. They can steer fellow farmers through the process as well as identifying the issues and challenges which the union should pursue to assist those looking at on-farm renewable energy.”

The union will produce a guide for those looking at wind energy, outlining issues to be considered and including input from farmers who have established small-scale wind turbines on-farm. Similar guides on hydro and anaerobic digestion will probably follow.

On Wednesday, Mr Collard plans to give the latest on feed-in tariffs and the renewable heat incentive, discuss the finances involved and talk about some of the practical challenges of generating electricity and connecting to the grid, solar power and wind energy.

“The timing of the event is extremely important for all who are considering a renewable energy product,” said Mr Collard. “The government and the private sector are offering schemes to make renewable projects easier to finance and quicker to produce a return on investment. For projects built within the next two years, by March 2013, there are guaranteed feed-in tariffs giving payments for 20-25 years with an 8-15 per cent return on investment.

“Issues such as a negative impact on the landscape, environmental concerns, weak grid connection, radar and telecommunications interference are all potential show-stoppers. A project that is well planned from the start, takes these factors into account, and that looks at ways to minimise objections, is more likely to have a quicker and less costly route to planning success.”

Gfw-Renewables was set up last year as a wholly owned subsidiary of Alnwick-based George F. White Chartered Surveyors.

The seminar takes place at Kelso Racecourse on Wednesday. Contact Paul Young at George F. White on 01665 600164 or at to book a place.