As the conversation around climate change and the way we use and produce that energy takes shape, there are things farmers are willing and able to do to ensure that energy is green and renewable, writes Bryn Francis of the FUW.

Farmers are particularly well placed to contribute towards the country’s renewable energy production – from small to medium sized wind turbines in fields, hydro schemes, solar panels on farm buildings, to biomass systems.

These also help the farm business reduce their own carbon footprint.

In 2017, the Welsh Government announced a target of meeting 70 per cent of Wales’ electricity demand from Welsh renewable electricity sources by 2030.

By 2018, 50 per cent of the electricity consumed in Wales was generated from renewable energy sources, up from 19 per cent in 2014 and 48 in 2017.

Notably, the introduction of Feed in Tariffs (FITs) in 2010 played a central role in more than doubling renewable energy production in Wales from 2014 to 2017 by posing as an incentive for farmers to invest in such production with minimum financial risk.

However, the abolition of FITs in 2019 has led to a significant slowdown in on-farm investment into renewable energy sources, consequently weakening the environmental benefits associated with private initiatives and diminishing the momentum of reaching Welsh Government’s 2030 target.

Whilst the FUW remains neutral in terms of the divisive issue of large-scale wind farms, the union supports the development of appropriate renewable energy sources, and maintains that Welsh farms have a central role to play in reaching Welsh targets provided the correct support is available.

It is clear that the Welsh Government must seek alternative and innovative ways in which funding can be provided in order to develop on-farm energy production and identify those barriers to on-farm energy production which fall within the remit of Welsh Government.