applying digestate from an anaerobic digestion plant© Tim Scrivener

Grant funding has been made available to farmers in England through the government’s RDPE Countryside Productivity Scheme to increase on-farm renewable energy use by improving energy storage and distribution.

Grants are worth up to 40% of the eligible costs of a project, subject to a minimum of £35,000 and maximum of £1m, and will be paid in stages in arrears once the work being claimed for is complete – although no work should commence until a grant agreement is signed.

At least 60% of project costs must be covered by private sources, such as savings or a bank loan.

See also: New storage technology offers farmers a battery alternative

Grants cannot be used to fund renewable energy generation equipment such as solar panels, wind turbines, biomass boilers or systems covered by the Fits or RHI schemes.

Eligible energy efficiency equipment includes:

  • Heat distribution networks and equipment for using renewable heat generated on farm, such as pipework, heat exchangers and pumps. Does not include the heat source (for example, biomass boiler)
  • Battery storage systems, providing the electrical storage capacity does not exceed the lowest of:
    1. Total energy produced in 24 hours
    2. Amount of energy used within the business in a 24-hour period
    3. Total power output of battery storage system must not exceed 1MW
  • Thermal screens to aid climate control in glasshouses
  • Wavelength-specific LED lighting to aid crop growth and pest control.

Funding is also available to improve digestate use. This includes grants for low-emission application equipment (for example, trailing shoes, deep or shallow injection) and systems for advanced digestate processing (for example, multi-stage separation).

The deadline for applications is 3 December 2018. For more information see the government’s handbook (PDF) or contact Defra Rural Services on 03000 200 301.