Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gold at the End of the Green Rainbow? Farmers Are Turning to Green Energy Schemes in a Bid to Boost Revenues. JEZ DAVISON Reports

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gold at the End of the Green Rainbow? Farmers Are Turning to Green Energy Schemes in a Bid to Boost Revenues. JEZ DAVISON Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: JEZ DAVISON

WHICH bank account currently pays an interest rate of more than 10%? The answer is, none at all.

in fact, only a handful pay out more than the rate of inflation, currently 4.5% on the consumer prices index meas sure.

That has left investors in a quandary, with many choosing to stash their money under the floorboards rather than lock it into an account offering a negative real-terms interest rate.

but one renewable energy expert says green schemes are a route to gold, with some offering double-digit returns on investment. Eco Environments, which installs solar panels, wind turbines and heat pumps all over the country including Teesside, said it was receiving more inquiries from farmers wanting to plough ahead with small-scale renewable energy schemes.

Director David Hunt said: "There is considerable interest among farmers in the potential benefits of harnessing renewable energy on their farms.

"It provides them with a strong and ongoing income at a time when commodity prices are falling and it allows them to make the best use of their land. It also fits with the farming culture of business diversification and allows them to generate their own electricity and become increasingly self-sustainable."

Farmers have been seeking new income streams after being hit by the recent drop in commodity prices.

Last week wheat prices dropped to their lowest level for almost a year, plummeting pounds 25 a tonne in the space of four weeks.

The price of corn, soya beans, cocoa and sugar has also fallen, squeezing farmers' margins and forcing them to look at other ways of making money.

But possible salvation has come in the form of the feed-in tariffs, which offer subsidies on green energy installations such as wind turbines and solar paneling.

Investors get guaranteed cash-back for the next 25 years on every unit of electricity generated by a solar panel, or 20 years for a wind turbine.

Under the scheme, installing solar panels on a barn roof could generate as much as pounds 5,000 of income a year, while larger projects could result in annual savings of more than pounds 15,000. …

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