Michael Eavis isn't the only farmer building a massive solar roof on his cow shed. According to a new survey, more than 80% of UK farmers want to install solar on their roofs. And they want to do it by 2013.
The survey, which was conducted by Farming Futures and Solarcentury, was intended to gauge the extent that farmers wanted to invest in solar power now that solar feed-in tariffs had been introduced.
With a full 80% of respondents saying they want to have solar photovoltaics on their roofs within the next three years, it's clear that there is massive interest in the technology—and that much of that interest is driven by the new financial support. (Which, let's not forget, some are arguing is a monumental rip off.) The feed-in tariff rate is set to drop in 2013, and gradually decline from there on, which could well be one of the reasons that farmers are feeling a sense of urgency. Interestingly enough, however, even though the farmers' interest was prompted by the tariff, many of them are still underestimating quite what a smart investment solar now represents:
"...the survey showed a relatively poor understanding of how the Feed-in tariff worked and the incentives offered. Only 55.2% understood to what extent they could actually earn from the FIT; being paid for all electricity generated and consumed, as well as that exported. The remainder (25.4%) thought payment was only for generation, or export (19.4%)."
While there has been speculation that farmers might now start installing field-scale solar power plant installations, much like Ecotricity's planned utility-scale solar power plant, it seems most farmers are more interested in building-mounted systems. Nevertheless, farms are in many ways an ideal environment for such installations, as Dr. Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Advisor on Renewable Energy and Climate Change for the National Farmers Union explained:
"These findings certainly reflect what our members have been saying. Agricultural and horticultural buildings present ideal platforms for solar PV, and small-to-medium sized roof-mounted systems are likely to be an attractive investment. It's hugely encouraging to see our farming industry become stronger through the generation of power, and helping this country reduce its reliance on fossil fuels."