The Scottish Agricultural College has launched an energy auditing service which could slash farms’ energy bills by 10-15% a year.

The service will be available to farmers in Scotland and the North of England but may be rolled out throughout the UK.

SAC says reducing energy costs on farms could save Scottish farmers up to £13.5m a year for little cost.

Dr Stewart Gemmell, director of SAC consultancy services, said: “Saving energy makes good business sense as well as being important for the environment.

“Energy is not a fixed overhead and simple measures can often reduce energy consumption and make businesses more competitive.”

Re-setting energy controls, improving insulation in buildings and investing in more efficient buildings and vehicles could mean additional savings.

“Energy costs have risen by as much as 30% on some farms and monitoring is the first step to controlling use,” said SAC’s Sandy Ramsay.

“The potential for saving energy costs is 10-15%, year after year, and even more with capital investment.”

Energy costs vary from £3/ha on LFA specialist sheep farms to £61/ha on dairy farms. Intensive livestock, general cropping with potatoes and dairy have the highest levels of energy use.

SAC specialists will assess energy use on the farm, benchmark against other similar farms, and advise on possible savings and payback. The cost of an audit is likely to work out at £500-£600 depending on farm size.

The audit will also look at the opportunities for the production of renewable energy, including wind, hydro, solar, biomass, biofuel and biogas.