As part of the AgroRES project, Devon County Council commissioned a Regional Self-Assessment looking into the county’s socio-economic framework, amount and growth of renewable energy in agriculture, local policies and actions for the pursuit of the European Union’s sustainability objectives for 2030 and the risks and opportunities associated with the spread of renewable energy in agriculture.

The report concluded that there is a significant opportunity for the investment and diffusion of renewable energy across the regions agricultural sector due to its rural nature, strong commitment to action on climate change, ideal geographic conditions of the region and latent potential for investment amongst farms.

National incentives and policies over the past decade have significantly encouraged investment in renewable energy, however, local and sector specific policies are lacking. Despite the increase over the past 10 years, only 8% of total regional energy use is met through renewable energy.

Anaerobic digestion is cost-effective for larger dairy farms and roof mounted solar PV on dairy parlour roofs could offer a financially viable solution for smaller dairy farmers. In the wider grazing/livestock sector, there are opportunities for ground mounted solar PV. Wind power is also viable in the right location, however, planning constraints can create challenges to installation.

Investments in renewable energy are at risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic and regulatory uncertainty following the UK’s exit from the EU, but, certainty remains over long-term commitment to act on climate change. A challenge exists as to how to fund investments, whether through investment schemes focusing on Environment factors for larger investments or incentive schemes that make small scale on-farm investments financially viable.

If you want to know more about the potential of this region, read the Regional Self-Assessment Report from Devon County Council.

Photo: Ulrike Leone / Pixabay.