Look at energy efficiency before renewables

Farm businesses need to look at energy efficiency before looking at external energy generation schemes to boost income, said NatWest’s head of agriculture and renewable energy Ian Burrow, speaking at the Energy Now Expo in Telford.

The bank – the first to offer energy audits as a dedicated service to businesses including farms – is building a knowledge bank among key lending staff on renewable energy options and supports.

“The Carbon Trust suggests expenditure on energy could be cut by 10-15% by using energy more efficiently, educating staff and by buying smarter. This requires no capital investment,” said Mr Burrow.

Where capital was required for renewables projects the bank offered a bespoke service. Energy audits – currently being trialled in the North West – cost £1,000 typically and would be added to borrowing requirements where lending was provided, he explained.

“Importantly, if we identify savings of £20,000 for a business, for example, we will make sure loan repayments will be within that amount,” he explained. This meant business cashflow would be under no greater pressure as savings and repayments were ‘like-for-like’.

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