Resilience is important for any business. For Emyr Davies, who milks 280 pedigree Holsteins at Triol Bach, near Camarthen in South Wales, it means diversifying to secure a reliable income stream to support his enterprise.
The third-generation farmer already has two 50kWh turbines on his 178ha holding and the third is in the planning process.
“I started talking about it in 2010 but I didn’t know whether solar or wind would be better,” he tells Farmers Weekly.
“Part of the farm is 275m above sea level with strong winds gusting over 6mps so the more I looked at it, the more wind seemed to be right.”
See also: Learn more about wind power with Farmers Weekly’s wind power academy
Putting agriculture on the grid
Farm Power is an industry-led initiative to help farmers fulfil their potential as significant players in energy production.
As part of this initiative Farmers Weekly is producing a series of e-learning modules providing best practice on installing particular renewable energy technologies on farm.
If you would like to learn how to produce food and wind energy your land, like Mr Davies, visit academy.fwi.co.uk to take the test.
Find out more about the Farm Power project.
Mr Davies decided to lease land to a developer rather than take the risk of planning, building and running the turbines himself. However, after the two turbines became operational in December 2012, he decided that owning one of them would be a good investment.
“The more people I spoke to, it became clearer that owning the machine would get me a fantastic return.”
After collecting the first year’s performance data – which showed an average output of 220,000kWh – he secured a bank loan and invested £324,000 to own one of the turbines. He expects a payback period of no more than six years.
“The investment covered the cost of the planning, grid connection, installation and one turbine – basically splitting the cost of the two down the middle,” he says.
Both turbines are connected to the National Grid, one earning a 29p Feed-in Tariffs rate and the other a 27p rate.
However, because of the distance from the site to the farm they are not generating any electricity for the business.
“I was quoted £80,000 to put in the required cabling to connect them to the farm, which was too much. They are also too far away. I would lose too much power because of how far it has to travel.”
But the need for cheaper electricity to power the business has driven Mr Davies to apply to put up a third 50kWh turbine, which will provide cheaper electricity.
If successful it will be put up on a lease agreement, earning the farm a rental income from the land, but crucially it will allow Mr Davies to buy electricity for less than 4p/kWh, rather than the 11p day rate he pays at the moment
The cost saving, and the additional income that is guaranteed to come from his renewable energy investments, will be used to expand the business to make it more resilient after a turbulent past 12 months.
“I’ve been hit hard by the price drop – we started a cheese contract last April on 35p/litre and we’re down to 24p/litre now. We produce 2m litres a year so it’s a lot of money.
“The diversified income is important because we still have to invest in the business. I put up a new shed last year with a slatted floor and 125 cubicles and will be looking to expand the herd again.”
If you would like to learn more about how to develop your own wind turbine or lease your land to a developer then check out the Farmers Weekly Energy Academy online at academy.fwi.co.uk.
Collectively making a difference
Our small-scale wind turbines are designed to farm the wind and are the choice of more than 600 farmers, land owners and community groups in the UK.
Collectively they are making a difference. Endurance is proud to support Farm Power to highlight what wind can do for you.