A fund of £2.4m has been set up to help farmers in Scotland develop renewable energy schemes.
The cash will be put into Scotland’s Communities and Renewable Energy Scheme Loan Fund, which from April will be open to farmers and other land owners as a financial kickstart for their green business ambitions.
The kitty was unveiled yesterday by Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, who said: “Renewable energy generation at a local level has the potential to be a real money spinner. However, I am told repeatedly by farmers that, while aware of the benefits to be obtained from renewables, they are put off pursuing schemes because of the expense of reaching the pre-planning stage.
Mr Lochhead said the scheme was designed to cover the risk of the pre-planning stage by offering loans of up to 90% of the costs, providing there is a minimum community benefit from the project.
He added: “I urge all land managers to seize this opportunity to benefit from nature, assist their communities and help Scotland maximise its potential from the renewable energy revolution.”
In December, a UK-wide survey revealed that 80% of farmers want to have solar panels on their roofs by 2013.
The research found that demand for renewable technologies has increased on the back of the introduction of feed-in-tariffs.
The survey found that 88% of farmers are currently considering installing renewable systems on their land, where large buildings can provide ample space for numerous solar panels.
Last year, the government announced a £12.6m fund to examine how agriculture contributes to climate change.
About 8% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions are from farming, but the way farming emissions are calculated fails to take into account the differences between different practices or the effects of innovative approaches and new policies that aim to reduce GHG emissions.
The research fund aims to highlight these differences and give farmers the evidence needed to take more effective steps to reduce emissions.
The National Farmers’ climate change adviser Ceris Jones said: “Farmers and growers are continually striving to make more efficient use of resources – nutrients, livestock, energy and water – it makes good business sense. It also makes good climate sense.”