Are you thinking of diversifying this year?

Discussion in 'Rural Diversification' started by Chris F, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    There are always lots of questions about diversification options on TFF and what seems clear from them all, you really need to understand what you what to do before embarking on any project.

    This recent article from Farmer Guardian - says just this. Make sure you really understand what you are trying to achieve and understand it will require a slightly different skill set.

    With this in mind TFF have teamed up with Freeths, to bring two free seminars designed to help you understand some of the options available and some of the hurdles you will face in getting them live on your farm.

    The seminars can be seen below and can be booked using the links:

    Grantham Seminar - 11th May - 11am -

    Oxford Seminar - 18th May - 5:30pm -

    The events themselves are in the TFF calendar where you can read a little more about them:

    We look forward to seeing you at one of the events and please bring along any friends who you think might be interested who aren't on TFF.
    YorkshireAndrew likes this.
  2. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    To let you know that @Greenenergyfunder from TFF will be speaking at the events. Please ask any questions you have on here prior to the event if you have them.
  3. wilber

    wilber Member

    Will these seminars be broadcast over the internet?
  4. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    @wilber I'll going to attend at least one of them and will should be able to put up some parts after the event and load the videos on here. Won;t be able to do the whole seminar due to length though.
  5. wilber

    wilber Member

    Cheers Chris, Should have a live feed in this day and age though?
  6. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    I'd need to get the TFF powers that be to invest in some technology for that, but yes, it would be great to be able to stream lots of different things from all sorts of shows, seminars and auctions around the country.
  7. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    I'm attending the Diversification Event this evening in Oxford at 5:30, if you would like to attend then I'm sure its still possible, click here:

    Its being held here: Freeths LLP, 5000 Oxford Business Park South, Oxford, OX4 2BH

    See you there!
  8. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    I did say I would do a bit of a review of the event, it was very interesting and as always I learnt some new elements that I didn't know and got more of an understanding of how complex these projects can be.

    The three speakers on the day were Catherine Burke (Freeths), George Paton (Webpaton) and Alex Wilkins (Eurolease) @Greenenergyfunder

    I did film all three, but had a problem with the sound, so apologies if you have to sit in a quiet room with the volume turned up to max to hear them. Consequently I haven;t added the video of Catherine as she was quite softly spoken. But I have included some of my notes.

    Catherine Burke (Freeths)

    Being solicitors Catherine concentrated on the contract side of a lot of these issues. Not all these systems need to be live all the time. Some systems are only designed to be used at time of stress on the network. But you get paid all the time regardless. Battery storage is giving a lot more opportunities to farms that are close to the network, both for storing the energy you produce, or just for drawing from the network at cheaper times and then discharging at peak times. Do you even do a project yourself, or do you just rent your land to a developer and take a % of the profits, there are lots of ways to structure the deals. Another big consideration is what happens at the end of these projects or if the company you rent to changes hands or goes bust. Freeths suggest here that a fund is accumulated during the operation of the project to deal with issues, decommissioning and clean-up.

    After listening to her, I can certainly see why you want a good contract solicitor who understands Renewable Energy to help you where you are renting land out.

    George Paton (Webpaton)

    2:00 - Solar needs to generate 7.5p per kwh to be viable
    3:37 - Private wiring deals, where a solar park supplies direct to a single consumer
    4:45 - Needs to be a change in legislation so you can build a solar park in Devon and supply someone 100 miles aaway and just pay a usage fee for network transport.
    5:50 - There are only 9 operation Battery farms at the moment, the future is a little unknown, but subsidies are now on storage, with multiple grants available.
    10:00 - Key to battery storage is being close to a grid connection - so will only work for some farms and you are being talked to you at the same time as your neighbours
    12:30 - You also want to consider the visual impact of any project
    14:50 - We (farmers) made misatkes on solar leases
    16:00 - Its cheap to apply for planning permission, so you can consider doing the first part yourself, then sell the rights once you have them, this however does come with some risk. This can be £20k to £30k.
    19:35 - Is Electric independence the key - Tesla are now selling smaller batteries for both private and semi-commercial storage. Farmers don;t move very often, so these project can pay off over the years. But we also don;t know the life of these batteries yet. Tesla say 7 years to replacement.
    22:40 - AD plants offer another route. Be careful around the build, costs tend to go up and they always run late in build phase. So renting here is probably the best option. Also you can have a contract to sell forage to the plants - so the farmer wins both ways

    One consideration that was raised in the questions, was the safety zones required around these plants. Apparently, Health and Safety sets this at 250m. This isn't a planning requirement, but if you do have development land within this 250m of an AD plant, then you may find you won't be able to get permission on it in the future. The same was true for battery sites.

    Another question was around whether these sites can be considered brown field sites at the end of their operation. This is generally not the case, but always worth planning with this in mind.

    Alex Wilkins (Eurolease)


    Alex gave 3 case studies and said that small scale biomass was still working for farms and I think this leads back to being energy independent.

    The re-finance option here would seem the most interesting for many farmers who have already put projects in and want to pull some capital out. These can be costed so they are cash neutral in the short term and take advantage of the cheaper rates of lending at the moment.

    My overall view from the evening is that big projects will depend on a bit of luck and being in the right location. However, all farms can make them energy independent. Or even better, put a plan in place to make themselves and their neighbours energy sufficient. If you are offering your neighbours cheaper electric, imagine how much easier it will be to get planning permission! It certainly got me thinking.

    My favourite idea of the night was to convert a spare barn for classic car storage and add a biomass boiler to keep the cars warm and solar panels to keep all the batteries on trickle charge and the dehumidifiers running. It may not be farming, but sounds like their would be money in it!
  9. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    I have increased the volume as high as it will go on this and while it isn't great on my computer, you can hear it on the TV. But for completion - here it is:


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