There is big potential to capture escaping energy in modern farm buildings including crop stores and intensive livestock housing.

Compared with modern insulated housing systems where air-tight structures ensured all air moving in and out of the property could be channelled to capture energy through heat exchangers, farm buildings were like sieves, said Andrew Kneeshaw from the Farm Energy Centre, speaking at the Energy Now Expo in Telford.

Energy saving techniques in the most efficient domestic housing was streets ahead of farming, explained Nick Newman of Bere Architects.

The challenge facing both domestic and farm structures was converting existing structures ahead of 2050 when EU-wide targets for reducing emissions are due to be realised. “Eighty per cent of the buildings that will exist then have already been built,” explained Mr Newman.

For farmers like Sheffield-based James Wilkes driving down energy bills by introducing renewable sources of energy on-farm was still the focus. “Grandfather started that when he installed a wind pump and borehole to overcome the lack of mains water in his day.”

Today, the business rents out sites for wind turbines using low-cost energy during daytime periods and rental income for improvement to farm facilities, he explained. In future, the need to update current slurry storage could pave the way for an anaerobic digester to be installed if the economics add up.

For more information on renewables, visit our dedicated Farm Energy section