Solar opportunity for Scottish growers

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Scottish farmers can partner with Iqony Solar Energy Solutions (SENS UK), a leading solar power and battery developer to help Scotland hit its climate goals – while providing a valuable new income stream for working farms.

Crucially, the new ‘affinity’ deal between the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and SENS UK aims to ensure that only a marginal amount of productive farmland is used for solar installations, by working closely to identify suitable sites.

Under the deal, NFUS will identify sites that are suitable for Photovoltaic (PV) technology and battery projects, develop them for the long term and pay landowners an indexed rent for the land for up to 40 years.

James Bracegirdle, Managing Director of SENS in the UK said: “We are delighted to have signed an Affinity agreement with NFUS. Although it’s clear that our projects will help Scotland advance its Net Zero goals, we also hope that our involvement and our financial capability will give Scottish farmers a solid alternative option to generate long-term, stable income.”

Suitable sites for development would be a minimum of 80 acres, where any development would have a minimal visual impact and have low flood risk.

Sites cannot be too rocky or steep, with most of the land Grade 3 or lower under the Government’s Agricultural Land Classification.

Grade 3 land has moderate limitations which affect the choice of crops, timing and type of cultivation, harvesting or the level of yield.

The sites must also be available to lease, with potential for a connection to the National Grid.

After signing the Affinity Deal in March, Iqony and NFUS have moved to reassure landowners who are concerned that solar PV installations will reduce the amount of productive farmland available – with the impact being marginal.

They point at that to reach the UK’s Net Zero goals, PV would only be used for 0.29% of available land – approximately 0.51% of all available agricultural land.

NFU Scotland Commercial Manager Tom Graham said: “Agrivoltaics and solar technology are currently developing at a rapid pace.  This partnership keeps us at the forefront of new solar technology that will help NFU Scotland’s members build sustainable and profitable businesses by creating additional income on what they do for years to come.

“We’ve seen how impactful and innovative our members can be when they are supported by reliable renewable services, and we expect many of them will want to explore this opportunity to grow their businesses without using up productive agricultural land, still facilitating grazing and thus create a stable economic future for Scottish agriculture.”

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