Devon farmer beats FIT cut deadline

A free-range chicken farmer from Devon is reaping the benefits after beating the deadline for cuts in Feed-in Tariffs.

Under government proposals, the rate for FiTs on smaller PV installations are set to be halved. In order to receive the old rate, installations had to be up and running before 12 December 2011.

Louise Down (pictured) had 40 solar PV panels installed on the roof of her chicken barn, in Chulmleigh, at the beginning of December and is now receiving a FiT of 43.3p/kWh and is seeing a return of 14% a year.

In addition, the installation, which was fitted by South Molton-based Source Renewable, has made the organic farm even greener.

It has provided her 4,000 chickens with carbon-free electricity and powered the barn’s lighting, as well as the belts which carry the eggs to the ventilation system.

“It’s ideal and means our farm is now closer to being sustainable, which is something I’ve dreamed about for many years,” Mrs Down said.

“Our chickens are happy, healthy and free to roam around, and the fact their barn is powered by renewable energy makes our business even more rewarding.”

But with the chickens only off-farm at the time of depletion, it meant fitting the installation with their hens in mind, to ensure minimal disruption.

“We only have a spot every 13 months when the chickens are off-site, so Source moved their jobs around to ensure that we got our system fitted without any hassle,” Mrs Down added.

Despite government proposals to lower the Feed-in Tariff rate, Source Renewable director Laurie Eve says solar PV is still proving a popular choice.

“While the government has been considering lowering the rates, we have been negotiating strongly with our suppliers to reduce the cost of equipment so that solar PV still makes good financial sense for householders and businesses,” he added.