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Farmers Are Forced to Look at Efficiency Measures and Renewables

01 Feb 16:00 by Steve Walia

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Farmers are being forced to think very carefully about their energy usage this year, driven by lower incomes and the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit. This means that cost-cutting and business efficiency measures will both be key in the coming months as Britain's agricultural businesses prepare for changing income support schemes in the post-Brexit world.

Many farms have put on hold plans to invest big sums in renewable projects, but many experts believe that a strong business case still exists for bringing these technologies on to farms, and micro renewable and community schemes look set to be a growing theme for this year and beyond.

Many believe that farmers will seek to add business value by assessing their energy usage - its source, usage patterns and total amounts required. The government's rollout of smart meters and the Capacity Market Levy scheme will force customers to think in a new way about energy. Some farms will need to upgrade and use smart meters by April, depending on the type of energy that they use.

This will result in higher meter operating costs, particularly during the peak times of 4-7pm in winter, which will cost over 100pc more than other periods of the day. Seasonal and time-of-day tariffs may well become the norm, forcing farmers to further invest in efficiency measures or to look at green energy systems on their land, along with energy storage battery systems.

This year, over 60pc of the average electricity bill will comprise government taxes and levies, supplier operating costs and network plus distribution charges. On-site generation can still be economically worthwhile, however, despite the fall in government subsidies and even if only used to avoid peak charges. It's something that farmers will have to look at closely.