Farmers could play a significant part in decarbonisation of the UK’s national heat supply, according to Dr Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Adviser for Renewable Energy and Climate Change at the NFU.

“As the voice of British farming, the NFU has a desire to see profitable, resilient and diversified farm businesses through the transition to Brexit. Management of energy costs and investment in clean technology is a key part of this,” he explains.

“With dramatic falls in the cost of solar PV, onshore and offshore wind, as well as battery energy storage technology, the prospect of complete decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity supply is now in sight.”

However, he adds that there is still a huge challenge ahead to decarbonise Britain’s heat supply.

“There’s a requirement for large amounts of low-carbon gas to displace natural fossil gas, and this presents a great opportunity for farmers and landowners.

“An increased supply of agricultural feedstocks will be needed to fuel a growing bio-based economy, including a large fleet of biomethane plants and new processes such as synthetic gas from biomass.”

As opening speaker and chair of the keynote session on day two of the Energy Now Expo on 7 and 8 February in Telford, Dr Scurlock explains that on-farm renewables remain an exciting and fast-moving sector in the coming year.

“The first electric tractors may be on sale in Europe as early as 2018, and the escalating energy demands of battery cars could create opportunities for farmers to host charging stations.

“Large vehicles may also function like mobile storage batteries, earning income through ‘vehicle-to-grid’ services, and allowing access to ultra-low-cost charging,” he adds.

In addition to Dr Scurlock, over 60 speakers have been confirmed for the Energy Now Expo, which will cover a range of topics focusing on current and future renewable energy opportunities for farmers. These include:

  • Mark Tufnell, Vice President Country Land and Business Association (CLA)
  • Ray Noble, solar & storage advisor, Renewable Energy Agency (REA)
  • Simon Hamlyn, chief executive officer, British Hydropower Association (BHA)
  • Jennifer Pride, head of renewable energy team, Welsh Government
  • Dr Jeremy Tomkinson, chief executive officer and lead consultant for biofuels, National Non Food Crops Centre (NNFCC)
  • Henry Phillips, Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)
  • Hiten Sonpal, Head of specialist sectors, Lombard
  • Dr Andy Scott, head of consulting, Swanbarton Ltd
  • Dujon Goncalves-Collins, programme director, RenewableUK
  • John Findlay, chairman, Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA)
  • James Court, head of policy, Renewable Energy Agency (REA)
  • Steffan Messenger, BBC Environment Correspondent

Jennifer Woodruff, Innovation and low carbon network engineer, Western Power Distribution

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