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Think solar when building a barn

Thursday 20th of March 2014

Think solar when building a barn

Anyone constructing a new agricultural building should consider maximising additional income from a roof-mounted solar installation, says Strutt & Parker ahead of the Agricultural Buildings Show on Lincoln Showground on Thursday 3 April (http://www.farm-smart.co.uk/abs/).

With the UK government legally committed to meeting 15% of the country’s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020 there is an opportunity for landowners to look into creating solar farms.

Strutt and Parker says that solar photovoltaics are a good opportunity for generating on-farm renewable electricity and once installed, solar PV does not require day-to-day operation or daily maintenance and it produces a predictable amount of electricity, resulting in a consistent financial return on the investment made.

Most farms can host up to 50kW of solar PV panels, as this is the normal limit that can be connected into a 100-amp three-phase electricity supply, which is common on most farms.

By adopting a mono-pitch building of either 50ft by 100ft or 60ft by 80ft, sufficient roof space is available for the installation of 50kW of solar panels.  Strutt and Parker advise that working closely with the building manufacturers, the solar installers and the solar frame suppliers, will preserve roof warranties.  The company has also created a solution where a new agricultural building can be erected under Agricultural Permitted Development Rights (28-day notice) that can host 50kW of solar panels.

Being realistic about the amount of electricity that will be produced, Strutt and Parker say you can expect a return of between 6% and 10% on the money invested in a Solar barn, depending on its geographical location.  This is before any value from using the barn on farm or letting the barn to an agricultural tenant is taken into account.

The advice from Strutt and Parker is that the Solarbarn is an exciting opportunity to invest in the infrastructure of farms, as well as facilitating a way to participate in renewable energy generation on farm, whilst providing a sensible return on the investment made. 

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