The Countryside Productivity Scheme 2018-19 supported the agricultural sector with investment in renewable heat infrastructure, generation and storage.
Investment in renewable heat and electricity was being supported by the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Feed-in Tariff in the UK. However, the agricultural sector was having greater difficulty in making this transition through additional costs. A farm could convert to a biomass heating system but there would still need to be substantial investment in a heating network to deal with a number of buildings over a wide area. Renewable electricity through solar panels was being generated mainly at midday when diary farms need the electricity in the morning and evening. Equally, often when farmers were switching on equipment in the early morning this was putting pressure on the supply network. In response to this problem the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) added heat infrastructure and energy storage to the list of measures you could access a grant for under the Countryside Productivity Scheme 2018-19. The scheme for energy storage was limited to 1MW as research showed that over this amount venture capitalist were investing. Also the size of storage was limited to either the amount of energy they could generate or the amount of excess generation, whichever was the smaller. The scheme benefitted eligible agricultural sector businesses. The scheme benefitted eligible agricultural sector businesses.
We can’t determine the revenue needed to support the administrative function but an idea of the capital grant needed is that two projects resulted in nearly £400k of investment.
Evidence of success
The scheme funded 2 measures, both were energy storage through battery technology, with a total grant of £389,853.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of the measures in the scheme had to be cut short due to the UKs exit from the EU and therefore it is difficult to fully ascertain whether it was a success.
Potential for learning or transfer
The scheme highlights the need for incentive schemes to be thought through for specific sectors. Take up of the UK government incentives for renewable energy in the agricultural sector were being hindered by the additional costs incurred to realise the benefit. Additional grants were needed to get over these barriers.