At last - subsidised energy, but only for some
Joe Spencer · December 22nd 2023 · read
As the progressive reductions in Basic Payments begin to bite, commodity prices remain flat and it is becoming clear that the new sustainable farm incentive scheme will not replace the lost income, even with a substantial cut in food production, what might be a piece of good news for some was released on 12th December.
Small scale solar is, in many ways, one of the easier forms of diversification, and under the latest version of the Farm Productivity Grants scheme, it will be added to the list of qualifying expenditure for grant support in 2024 (along with use of robotic and automated equipment and systems to aid crop and livestock production). For solar equipment, the grant available will be 25% of the cost of eligible items with the grant being between £15,000 and £100,000. The grant will cover up to 25% of the cost of eligible items. Roughly speaking it will cover installations of between 50 and 400Mw. Regrettably the grant aid will only cover roof mounted systems so will be of little help for those who have the right sites for ground mounted panels. Where appropriate buildings are available or are under construction (and where a three-phase supply is available nearby) it will be a potential opportunity.
The attraction of on farm solar is that power used on the farm will be effectively free, while surplus energy can be exported to the grid. The export prices are not as attractive as they were a year ago but nonetheless a 400Mw system exporting 100% of production could currently bring in about £40,000 annually. Where significant money is now being spent on driers, irrigation or livestock units, the return on capital would be higher.
An online checker, to assess eligibility should run from January-March with applications opening thereafter.
According to MHA agricultural partner Joe Spencer:
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