Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

Carter Jonas helps empower innovation

Powerful ideas can benefit from the input of energetic expertise to really make them spark.

When Mark Bennett decided on a solar panel installation as part of his investment programme for his farm he probably never dreamed of just how far the venture would take him.

Key to setting up his scheme, which has now pioneered the first floating solar panel installation in the UK, was funding from the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation obtained with through Carter Jonas as his local AMC agent.

Close examination of the application and our interpretation of its multitude of requirements made it obvious that it had real potential as a capital scheme for funding from the European Investment Bank in the form of a 0.8 per cent interest discount which was soon forthcoming.

It was good news both for Mark and for AMC, which is one of the few UK Lenders with access to EIB funding, and the 0.8 per cent discount gave a real boost to the viability of the scheme and its ability to cover the funding.

Cutting through red tape to make the project more affordable was a key factor in getting the scheme quite literally off the ground. Mark realised that rather than take up valuable land with the installation it could equally well be floated on his irrigation lagoon where it turns out to have many additional benefits.

Mark has since identified further expansion and diversification opportunities on and off the farm and has asked Carter Jonas to help secure further funding. This second project will generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs of future ideas without the need for more borrowing.

Mark’s scheme for floating solar, the first in the UK and which has now led to him setting up a company to offer it to others, brings benefits other than freeing up land.

The system has to be larger than the surface area of the base of the irrigation lagoon so that it could sit safely on the bottom should the water dry up but one of the advantages is that it helps prevent evaporation through shielding the surface area of the lagoon.

The cooling effect of the water on the panels and cables also leads to higher rates of generation, decreases erosion of the reservoir through reduced wave movement, slows algal growth through shielding the water, and lowers the environmental impact because there was no excavation work, no impact on the water quality, and uses recyclable materials. The recent announcement that ground mounted solar pv arrays will no longer be eligible for SFP / BFP from January 2015 will not apply to floating panels and means that the farm will not lose this valuable additional income stream.

The relationship between Carter Jonas and AMC could also be advantageous in helping secure loans to enable your own business development plans.

steven carter jonas

Steven McLaughlinFRICS FAAV


Steven is a Partner based in our Rural Team in Oxford and is head of Rural Valuation for the firm. He advises private and institutional clients on a diverse range of rural asset valuations for all pur...

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