Renewable energy still offers opportunity, says CAAV

Renewable energy continues to garner a larger share of the British energy market, and with the uncertainty posed by Brexit that trend is set to endure.

According to Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), the renewable energy market is changing rapidly, with growing opportunities for landowners to capitalise on rising demand.

“Renewable energy offers opportunities for small and large businesses alike,” he says. “For farmers looking to build resilience into their business renewable energy offers an income that is independent from the risks of agriculture.”

According to Juliet Davenport OBE, founder of Good Energy, renewable energy now makes up nearly a quarter of the UK’s electricity production, with a 21% increase between 2013 and 2014. However, the UK still imports 60% of its energy requirement, and with the weaker Pound that will make imported power more expensive, she adds. Although the Brexit vote could undermine investors’ confidence in the short-term, the UK energy market is changing fast, with a sharp increase in the number of small-scale sites.

“In 2000 our electricity came from about 1,000 sites – now it’s closer to one million,” says Ms Davenport. “That is hard for the National Grid to manage, especially as most of that is solar photo-voltaics, so it’s a challenge to match up supply with demand peaks and troughs. We’re going to need much more flexibility in the system.”

Battery storage is becoming practical and could soon be common, and new technology is developing to convert excess electricity into hydrogen to power cars, or into gas to feed into the mains grid, she adds.

Although the Government is steadily cutting tariff support, the capital costs of new projects are declining, and the growth of crowd funding offers significant opportunities for potential developers, says Ms Davenport. The private supply of energy to neighbouring businesses is also a growth area, with associated lower costs and potentially simpler agreements.

According to Mr Moody, the speed of change throughout the supply chain, from farm level to the National Grid, means it is vital to seek professional advice before committing to an agreement. “CAAV members and Fellows are ideally placed to advise on the full range of opportunities and risks associated with any renewable project.”