A Sheffield green energy company is expanding into the
agricultural sector after securing its first contract to supply a
farm with solar energy panels.
Greenbuy Energy is extending its operation beyond supplying
homes and business premises with renewables, as a change in the law
in April means that commercial property owners, including farmers,
can now have solar panels installed on their land without the need
for planning permission.
Greenbuy Energy business partner Russell Paul said: "The need
for planning permission is something which has deterred farmers
from solar energy in the past, but this is now no longer a concern
"As energy bills continue to soar more and more farmers are
becoming interested in ways to save money and, for many,
photovoltaic systems are a great option."
The company has signed its first agricultural deal with farmer
Stephen Woodward, owner of the 200 acre, arable Poplar Farm in
Greenbuy Energy, based in Dinnington, Sheffield, will fit 40
monocrystalline solar panels of 250 watts each on a south-facing
barn at Poplar Farm. In a year, the system will produce ten
kilowatt-peaks of photovoltaic energy - enough to provide a typical
household with all its electricity for 17 months.
It is estimated that Mr Woodward's investment in the solar
panels will generate a total benefit of £89,000 in 25 years.
Mr Woodward, 47, said: "There are always economic constraints
and pressures on farmers, and as a 200 acre arable site we use a
lot of electricity which obviously results in sizeable bills.
"This has been a family farm for around 120 years so its future
is very important to me. These solar panels are a long term
investment that will pay back the cost of their installation
quickly and then make money for the farm as they generate
"It makes a great deal of business sense and will go a long way
to helping secure the financial future of the farm."
Greenbuy Energy predicts that the farm's solar panels will
have an average annual return on investment of 18.34 per cent, and
within less than eight and a half years they will have generated
enough revenue to pay for themselves.
Russell said: "The size of the system we are installing on
Stephen's property means that his energy savings will be
particularly large. Many farmers have sizeable plots of land or
numerous buildings, which means they can have more solar panels
fitted to make even bigger savings."
"The solar feed-in tariffs mean that you are paid for generating
electricity regardless of whether or not you actually use it, as
any surplus electricity goes back into the grid and offers a