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NFU Scotland partners with solar developer to help achieve climate goals

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NFU Scotland (NFUS) has agreed a partnership with solar developer Iqony Solar Energy Solutions (SENS) to help Scotland achieve its climate goals while providing farmers with a valuable new income stream.

Under the ‘affinity’ deal the two parties will work with NFUS’ 9,000 members to identify rural sites that can be developed into viable solar PV and battery sites, generating and storing sustainable energy and providing income for the farming community, while ensuring that only a marginal amount of productive farmland is used for solar installations.

NFU Scotland Commercial Manager Tom Graham said:

“Agrivoltaics and solar technology are currently developing at a rapid pace. This partnership keeps us at the forefront of new solar technology that will help NFU Scotland’s members build sustainable and profitable businesses by creating additional income on what they do for years to come.

“We’ve seen how impactful and innovative our members can be when they are supported by reliable renewable services, and we expect many of them will want to explore this opportunity to grow their businesses without using up productive agricultural land, still facilitating grazing and thus create a stable economic future for Scottish agriculture.”

James Bracegirdle, Managing Director of SENS in the UK said:

“We are delighted to have signed an affinity agreement with NFU Scotland. Although it’s clear that our projects will help Scotland advance its Net Zero goals, we also hope that our involvement and our financial capability will give Scottish farmers a solid alternative option to generate long-term, stable income.”

Suitable sites for development would be a minimum of 80 acres, where any development would have a minimal visual impact and have low flood risk. Sites cannot be too rocky or steep, with most of the land being of low agricultural productivity. The sites must also be available to lease, with potential for a connection to the National Grid.

After signing the affinity deal, Iqony and NFUS have moved to reassure landowners who are concerned that solar PV installations will reduce the amount of productive farmland available. They point out that to reach the UK’s Net Zero goals, PV would only take up 0.29 per cent of available land (equivalent to approximately 0.51 per cent of all available agricultural land). To put this into perspective, UK airports currently use 0.2 per cent of available land and golf courses use 0.51 per cent of available land.

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