Renewable energy generation is rapidly becoming an important part of many farm businesses. From biomass boilers to solar panels, it offers an attractive income stream and shelter from escalating energy costs.
The Green Energy category in this year’s Farmers Weekly Awards recognises those who have started producing their own energy as heat, electricity or fuel, in turn reducing their dependence on fossil fuels and lowering their carbon footprint.
Norfolk farmer Stephen Temple impressed last year’s judges with how his renewable energy systems, which include biomass boilers and a 140kW combined heat and power unit, integrate into the farm business. His enthusiasm also made him a stand-out winner.
“It’s more than just having a good piece of technology,” he says. “Being energy efficient is a way of thinking and almost a lifestyle choice as much as anything else.”
But, while enthusiasm is important, as for any new venture, the figures must still stack up and Mr Temple says the process of entering the awards provides a useful chance to review and focus what you’re doing with the business. “It’s not necessarily about winning. Even just completing the application form makes you more sharply focused and having independent people come around the farm gives you another perspective on what you’re doing,” he says.
Winning the award is also terrific recognition for the hard work staff put in and helps when meeting with legislative officials or inspectors, he adds. “But for Green Energy in particular, I think one of the biggest benefits is for the sector as a whole by showing other people ideas and technology that work.”
Independent judge Richard Crowhurst, from Enagri, says the Green Energy category attracts a diverse range of entries that any enterprise could win.
“The things that unit all the entrants are a passion for what they are doing and a dogged determination to succeed. The size or type of the enterprise is irrelevant, it’s about having both a business and environmental case for ideas and following them through to delivery.”
2011 Farmers Weekly Awards