22 February 2023

Solar farming has the potential to provide food security, increase access to affordable energy, and regenerate the struggling agricultural industry in the UK. At Green Switch Capital, we’re working with farmers across Britain to provide them with passive income as part of our land-leasing project. We’re repurposing unused agricultural land and converting it into solar farms.

Utilising renewable energy through solar farming presents a sustainable way of tackling the dual energy and food security crisis. Solar farming presents the agricultural industry with a way of repurposing unused land, providing farmers with passive income, and even improving biodiversity and soil quality.

It’s a common misconception that solar farms are taking the space of crop production and animal grazing. Government guidance means that solar farms can only be developed on land which is classified as 3B and below. This land is deemed viewed as being of “moderate quality”. Repurposing this less desirable land gives farmers a passive income that provides stability during the current economic uncertainty.

Green Switch Capital has already invested over £350 million in renewable diversification with 150,000+ tonnes of CO2 carbon savings every year. Our land-leasing programme enables the agricultural industry to directly benefit from the establishment of a sustainable, self-reliant renewable energy sector.

How Solar Farming Can Benefit Farmers

Solar farms reduce the cost of farming. The current energy crisis is hitting the agricultural industry on every front – from the rising cost of energy to Europe’s fertiliser shortage. Solar is one of the most affordable forms of renewable energy, providing cheaper energy, and a new revenue stream for farmers who lease their land.

Leasing unused land for solar farming can provide UK farmers with a way to keep their business profitable while improving the UK’s food security. Solar farming is a win-win for farmers, providing numerous benefits that include increased biodiversity and soil improvement. Land that is repurposed for solar farming can still be utilised for crops and animal grazing in the right circumstances.

Last summer showed the vulnerability of the UK to climate change. Record temperatures virtually grounded the country to a halt with the heatwaves leading to high reports of crop failure across the UK.

Integrating solar power into the agricultural industry will help tackle the climate crisis, reduce operating costs, and improve the UK’s food security. The National Farmers Union has called for more solar power integration within rural communities. Exploring solar farming and land leasing provides farmers with a way to diversify their revenue streams and earn passive income.

Solar Farming and Food Security

Solar farming offers a solution to one of the UK’s biggest food security challenges – climate change. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimate that climate change can reduce high-grade agricultural land across the UK by as much as 75% by 2050. Solar farms unlock the potential of zero-carbon electricity, providing a path to ensuring food security across the UK.

Installing solar panels doesn’t mean the land can’t continue to be used. There is a rising ‘agrivoltaics’ movement that focuses on finding ways to continue to use land for agricultural uses alongside solar farming. Agrivoltaics has experienced rapid growth in recent years with its solar capacity leaping to 2,900 megawatts in 2020.

How can we continue to promote food security through solar farming? It’s all about utilising every inch of agricultural land. A variety of animals and plants can thrive between the sun and shade of solar panels – but it requires planning. Vegetation that shoots up in height is not suitable for nurturing alongside solar panels as they can provide shade on the panels.

The shade provided by solar panels can be cultivated to act as a haven to create a microclimate for agricultural work.

How Solar Farming Can Help the Agricultural Industry

It’s a common misconception that solar farming and traditional farming are incompatible. Solar power provides a way to preserve our agricultural land, including regenerating less desirable and over-used land.

Solar farming is time-limited, typically for 25 years. The installation and infrastructure can be dismantled after this time. It’s more accurate to view solar farming as simply ‘borrowing’ or repurposing agricultural land for a specific time. The health of the soil can recover and rejuvenate while the solar panels are in place.

One of the most common arguments against solar farming is the land it uses. Comparatively, solar farming has minimal impact on land. If solar farming was to expand by five times its current land use, it would still utilise less land than golf courses in the UK.

Repurposing under-utilised agricultural land for solar farming will create a positive impact throughout the industry. The current energy crisis is posing financial problems for farmers, the agricultural industry, and domestic energy users. Rising energy bills have the potential to be catastrophic for farmers already facing economic uncertainty after recovering from the impact of the pandemic while grappling with changing regulations post-Brexit.

Solar farming helps the agricultural industry in two ways – producing affordable electricity and providing farmers with passive income to off-set rising costs. Solar is one of the most affordable energy options, cutting operational costs for farmers and enabling the industry to become more carbon-neutral.