A new national service to help farmers make the most of renewable energy technology has been launched by Shropshire-based consultant Davis Meade.

Some farmers could save thousands of pounds by adopting new forms of energy production, said director Philip Meade.

He decided to launch the service called ACRES (Alternative Crops for Renewable Energy Solutions) after several clients expressed an interest in producing their own power, but were unsure how to go about it.

Small, roof-top windmills could save a typical business £300-£400 a year, he said.

And installing a simple hot-water boiler costing £5000-£10,000, fuelled by a few acres of miscanthus or waste from established woods, could provide all the energy needed to heat a large farmhouse and cover the capital cost in just a few years, he added.

Further up the scale, larger windmills or combined heat and power plants could offer the bigger farm or a group of farmers the chance to supply electricity to local schools or hospitals.

Farmers who produced more than 501kWh a year, well within the scope of medium-sized boilers, could also trade carbon credits, currently worth several hundred pounds.

Mr Meade said the service could provide advice on equipment, planning permissions, contracts and could also offer finance.

“The idea is to be able to present farmers with a package to start producing their own power.”

Further information on 01691 659 658.