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Aberdeenshire farmers buy in to wind energy

Wind farm at Burnfoot Hill, Blackford
Farmers see renewable energy production as a clear ‘win-win’ opportunity, but one which can be high risk, owing to the difficulties – and expense - of acquiring planning permission and grid access

Aberdeenshire farmers are rapidly taking up production of renewable energy as an opportunity for securing reliable income sources despite high investment costs, a study from the James Hutton Institute has found.

Dr Lee-Ann Sutherland, leader of the research team, said that the number of planning applications for wind energy turbines in Aberdeenshire has increased exponentially in the past two years. A total of 777 applications for wind turbines were lodged with Aberdeenshire Council in the period from 2004 to 2011 and by January 2011, 284 turbine developments had been approved for construction.

“The rapid up-take of renewable energy production reflects the business opportunity it represents,” said Dr Sutherland. “It enables farm businesses, technology suppliers and consultancies to engage in and pursue this type of development, and the Scottish Government to view it both as an environmental and an economic development opportunity. Farmers see it as a clear ‘win-win’ opportunity, but one which can be high risk, owing to the difficulties – and expense - of acquiring planning permission and grid access”.

“On-farm renewable energy production contributes to decentralisation of energy production in general, but can also contribute to increased consolidation of agricultural holdings, because it tends to be located on large, owner-operated farms. This is because these farms can most easily afford (that is, get loans) to make the investment required for medium to large wind-turbines.”

“Although farmers don’t typically view climate change as an important driver for producing renewable energy, they do often see wind energy production as a means of ‘future-proofing’ their farms – securing an economically and environmental sustainable source of energy for the future. Several farmers saw a future for hydrogen cars, vans and tractors, run on energy produced on-farm,” she added.

Dr Sutherland also reported the potential for increasing on-farm wind energy generation through collaboration with neighbouring farmers.

Production of wind energy in Aberdeenshire was studied as part of the FarmPath (Farming Transitions: Pathways towards regional sustainability of agriculture in Europe) project, funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme and the Scottish Government.

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Printed from /news/aberdeenshire-farmers-buy-wind-energy on 08/12/23 02:20:32 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.