Farmers looking at entering the renewable energy market were warned this week that such is the current enthusiasm for such projects, there is a lot of poor advice going around.
Chris Rodgers, who heads the renewable energy team at the Co-operative Bank, said he was giving a health warning when he described some of the advisors on such projects as “double-glazing salesmen” making a lot of money out of the current dash into renewable energy.
He told a conference In Carnoustie of cases where farmers had spent thousands of pounds getting planning permission for a wind turbine but found the prevailing wind was too slow on valley farms.
He said agents acting for farmers often had little or no knowledge of the value of rent for a turbine despite negotiating with the power company.
Rodgers was also scathing about some of the technology being sold, saying some of it was at least 20 years old.
He dismissed small turbines, particularly those working on a vertical axis as not being worth the investment even if they were often much easier to get over the twin hurdles of the planning system and grid connection.
He said only one in five wind turbine applications made it through the planning system but said Aberdeenshire, Highland and Fife councils were among the more amenable.
He warned that planning costs especially those linked with a need for an environmental assessment, were between £2,000 and £300,000 so that it was important to know the odds of getting it through the system.
He said the big encouragement, apart from the feed-in tariff rates, is that the Scottish Government is very supportive of renewable energy.
Although it has not featured as highly as planning permission, Rodgers said power companies were becoming more difficult to deal on grid connections and for the farmer or landowner wishing to move into renewable energy, this be a bigger hurdle in the future.
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