3 July 2013, New research which demonstrates the farming sector's appetite for renewable energy opportunities now and in the future has been welcomed by Carter Jonas whose own energy and rural specialists have been working in tandem for the past decade in pursuing clients' overlapping interests in both sectors.
The research report - 'Farm as Power Station', on which independent not-for-profit organisation Forum for the Future, Nottingham Trent University and publication Farmers Weekly worked together– is based on a survey of 700 farmers.
Headline research figures identified that 40 per cent of respondents were deploying renewables, with 61 per cent of those not involved in on-farm renewable energy generation yet looking to invest in it in the coming five years. Just under one third (30 per cent) using renewable technologies utilised wind installations and 76 per cent felt that potential in the renewable sector had yet to be met.
Andrew Watkin, who heads the Carter Jonas Energy and Marine team, believes that all those with business interests in the sector will welcome this latest research.
He says: "The synergy between the energy and agricultural sectors is something we've sought to establish with clients during the past decade in order to create value and capitalise on opportunities in what are, increasingly, complementary sectors."
"Energy is a site-driven business and the agricultural sector is in a prime position to assist with the further development of this sector. In turn, renewable energy can provide diversification projects for landowners in looking to maximise development opportunities whilst also securing a future energy supply."
Yet Andrew Watkin adds a note of caution against a wholesale 'dash for energy' among farmers and landowners where there may be better value in more conventional agricultural production.
He explains: "An accelerated focus on energy crops for anaerobic digestion (AD) plants will put pressure on the availability of land for conventional crops."
"Those with dairy and livestock interests are acutely aware of the impact this has on supply and price."
"As ever, a balance needs to be struck. It's the job of advisors in the energy and farming sectors to identify and bring forward the opportunities which meet their clients' best interests."
"Renewable energy opportunities are one way – and an increasingly popular way - which can realise the full worth of a site."