Could Norfolk become the next hot-spot for on-farm energy barns?

Electricity pylons. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Electricity pylons. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Norfolk farmers are well-placed to take advantage of the latest renewable energy boom in battery storage barns, according to rural property agents.

While the past few years have seen a rising number of landowners generating their own energy through wind and solar projects, cuts in government subsidies have prompted some to look at emerging new opportunities.

Among them are battery storage barns, otherwise known as energy barns, which store energy on farm which can be exported to the National Grid, allowing it to balance electricity supplies during periods of peak demand.

Edward Barker, of property agent Cheffins, said the firm has been advising on battery storage for a number of clients throughout East Anglia, all looking to make the most of this “new chapter” for the renewable energy industry.

“The market for these opportunities is changing on a nearly daily basis, but landowners’ potential for achieving high ground rents for battery storage or gensets (generators) is dependent on the developer the landowner chooses to move forward with,” he said.

“Norfolk is a particularly strong location for energy barns because the Grid is not yet fully saturated, as it is in other areas of the country. The likes of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire are at full capacity for these projects.

“There are some serious opportunities here in the right areas for people in Norfolk where the outlay for the farmer or landowner is effectively zero, yet the payouts can be large. We have a had a number of clients in the Norfolk region who have applied for energy barns, particularly around Swaffham and south west Norfolk.”

Mr Barker said developers usually approach landowners to lease their land for battery storage, in order to enter into a contract with the National Grid to import and export electricity on demand, depending on usage levels. While the most recent National Grid tender closed last month, he said there will be future opportunities which could offer potential ground rents of up to £50,000 per year to the landowner.

“There are a number of issues to be aware of for landowners looking into these types of contracts,” he said. “Most importantly, it is essential to proactively ensure that the National Grid rights are secured for the unit, at no cost or obligation, before being approached by a developer.

“Landowners also need to consider points such as how would the energy be stored – would it be in a purpose-built structure financed by the developer, or in containerised units which can be removed?”

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