Shropshire Star

Shropshire farming and the current challenges of energy prices

Whether your farming business is large or small, there is one cost that has hit every enterprise over recent months – the rocketing rise in energy prices.

Oliver Scott, farms director at Bradford Estates

Across the board, one of the most pressing concerns for all agricultural companies is the impact of soaring utility bills on their costs.

Amid the current pain of increasing bills, if ever there was a time to focus minds on alternative energy sources in farming, now would seem good.

The long-term future for many farm and estates businesses, particularly those in more remote areas, could be based around options for generating electricity off the main grid.

We are high users of energy so solar panels would unlock the potential to store energy in batteries for our own activity.

There is a national debate around the use of farmland for ground-mounted solar panel farms, with concern over the potential loss for alternative energy sources.

If the balance between our farming needs and our power needs can be understood, we should all be looking at the options available given the record highs for utility bills we are seeing.

The Investment by Bradford Farming has seen solar panels placed on the roof of our recently extended grain store, which seemed a perfect location.

Long term we will produce power to utilise as much as we can ourselves, yet there could be an amount exported back to the grid.

The grain store is our first foray into adding solar panels to one of our properties’ rooves as we believe it makes sense to use space that would not be utilised for anything else.

The positive impact on our farming business will be negating the risk of rising energy prices. When power usage grows as we dry grain during the summer months, we will be able to take advantage of the solar power generated on the roof above.

Using solar power when we receive the most and need it the most is a happy balance.

We can see the technology is innovating at pace, so potentially those who invest in panels in the future will enjoy greater benefits than we see today.

Our plans also include adding panels to the Estates Office as we move away from reliance on fossil fuels, including the boilers that run on them, as part of the Bradford Estates 100-year plan to safeguard the environment for generations to come.

As we renovate our properties, we are also introducing more efficient lighting, wall insulation and air source heat pumps. All the directors have electric cars, with charging points set up at the office.

It has taken a national crisis for people to look at their energy consumption. The time is right to see those habits being perpetuated into the future.

Oliver Scott is Farms Director at Bradford Estates.

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