SCOTLAND, UK - NFU Scotland’s Renewables Development Initiative (RDI) is driving a renewables revolution on Scottish farms and crofts.
The three-year project is designed to assist with the creation and provision of sound, independent advice to farmers and land managers across Scotland on renewable energy.
Smiths Gore was appointed as independent consultant and facilitator for events, for which funding was secured through the Scottish Rural Development Programme Skills Development Scheme.
Since November 2013, 14 events have been held on Scottish farms up and down the country, introducing several hundred farmers to renewable technologies through existing or planned projects.
Workshops built around the events have brought in experts to cover elements such as finance, construction, grid connection and community schemes.
Farm visits this year have featured the following:
- Wind energy
- Anaerobic digestion
- Heat pumps
The 2014 highlights have included a recent visit to the first 100 percent co-operatively funded wind turbine in Scotland, sited near Dingwall as well as the chance to view one of the first wood gasification systems in the UK on farm in Aberdeenshire.
The RDI now moves into its next phase where it aims, over its three year period, to continue to cover common and emerging technologies and stage up to 27 farm visits, allowing farmers to share knowledge and understand best practice through demonstrations and workshops.
Two events in the Borders in January 2015 will look at anaerobic digestion, biomass, ground source heat pumps, solar thermal, solar pv, wind and biodiesel.
NFU Scotland’s Operations and Subscriptions Manager David Lewington said: “The continued support and involvement of Scottish farmers will be essential if Scotland is to continue to make progress towards its world-leading renewable energy targets. However, based on our first full year, the response of farmers to the RDI is hugely encouraging.
“While early developments in renewables were very much focussed on wind energy, this initiative has gone a long way to showing farmers, crofters and landowners that a much wider range of viable technologies are now available to those seeking additional revenue, or to run their farm or steading as a more cost-effective enterprise.
“The initiative has shown different schemes at different stages of development, including feasibility, planning, construction, commissioning and operation with repeat visits throughout these stages of a project. Crucially, the visits can also go a long way to showing those new to the technology where the pitfalls and problems may also lie as well as the many opportunities.
“Energy production provides every farmer in Scotland with the chance to diversify their income and cut variable costs that can eat into profit. However, the recurring theme of the events has been to share experience and avoid making the mistakes that crop up the first time a farm business undertakes this kind of project.”
TheCropSite News Desk