A growing number of farmers are turning to renewable energy projects as crop yields falter, it has been claimed.
According to a new report from NatWest, RBS and green energy industry group RenewablesUK, most new wind farm installations had capacity of up to 50kW, netting farmers £50,000 for farmers in return for energy stored or exported to the grid.
The National Farmers' Union (NFU) says that in 2012, one in five of its members produced solar or wind power, with the additional revenue stream providing a financial lifeline as crop yields and productivity tumbled to their lowest level since the 1980s.
"2012 was a difficult year for the farming community, with bad weather hitting incomes hard," said NFU chief adviser for renewable energy Dr Jonathan Scurlock. "Investing in renewable energy provides farmers and growers with additional earnings at a time when farm budgets have become very stretched."
Last week, a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance warned that shale gas extraction costs in the UK are likely to be significantly higher than in the US, potentially hampering development of the energy source.