Framing solar energy
: an analysis of solar photovoltaics in British agriculture

  • B. Ledingham

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


    The introduction of the Feed-in Tariffs by the UK Government in 2010 provided a financial subsidy for renewable energy arrays and substantially reduced the return on investment period. Subsequently, the agricultural industry has been at the forefront of the onshore renewable market, providing both locations for arrays and consumers for the electricity produced. However, little research has been done into this recent trend, and the motivations, problems and impacts associated with it have gone largely unexplored. In light of greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the agricultural industry, solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays could provide a cost positive mechanism for mitigation.

    This study used complementary methods of both quantitative and qualitative data collection, gathered using a postal survey of farmers who have PV arrays. The presence of two main drivers for PV array installation by farmers is shown: environmental and financial, although these are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It is also suggested that low farmer education levels and access to finance for tenant farmers might be preventing further uptake within the industry.

    Evidence on the impacts that PV arrays are having on British farms is also presented. These include high returns on investment, which provide significant additional income for many farmers, allowing them to invest back into their businesses. Ground-mounted solar PV arrays can also benefit the local farm environment by reducing the amount of land farmed intensively and, if managed correctly, can provide habitats for wildlife and improve biodiversity. This research also shows that the assumption that renewable energy arrays increase energy efficiency amongst adopters is inaccurate, and they do not encourage wider reductions in farm carbon footprints. These findings have implications for the design of renewable energy policy, particularly as policies are changing rapidly in response to the unexpected high uptake of solar PV arrays.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    • Royal Agricultural University


    • Solar energy in agriculture
    • Solar energy
    • Environmental aspects
    • Agriculture

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