Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit

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21.11.14 Farm Power - Putting Agriculture on the grid

The Farm Power Coalition, an organisation made up of a growing number of farming bodies, businesses and NGOs has released a report today detailing their vision for Farm Power in 2020.  

The vision highlights how UK farms and rural communities will be making a significant contribution to a resilient, low-carbon energy system by 2020.

The report shows that there is at least 10GW of untapped resources across UK farms, equivalent to more than three times the installed capacity of the proposed new nuclear power plant at Hinckley Point C and a significant increase on current levels.  But despite various efforts to help farmers negotiate the energy landscape farmers are not yet fulfilling their potential as significant players in our energy system.

The vision is displayed below. To read the full report please click here.

Farm Power's Vision for 2020

By 2020, UK farms and rural communities will be making a significant contribution to a resilient low-carbon energy system.

We believe that:

♦  Despite the pioneering efforts of some, the considerable potential of farms and rural communities to contribute to the energy system remains largely untapped;

♦  The potential can be realised in a manner that enhances food production  and a variety of other societal goals including:

 the provision of essential ecosystem services, such as improved carbon,                                                       biodiversity, water and land management; and

 job creation and rural economic development;

♦ These broader goals - and the potential for energy investments to support them - must be explicitly factored into decision making around the UK's energy future (yet are currently largely ignored);

♦ The income provided by energy production will increase the economic resilience of farms and thus the UK food system

♦ Farm-based energy provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between farmers and their communities through mechanisms such as shared ownership and jointly-constructed community energy plans;

♦ Investment in sustainable farm-based energy is a means to kick-start the inevitable transition to a smart, dynamic and increasingly decentralised energy system.

To achieve this the Farm Power Coalition will:

♦ Help farmers make informed choices about the best technologies and options for their businesses

♦ Work with Government and business to:

 Break down the barriers that are stifling investment in sustainable farm-based                           energy

 Put in place a supportive regulatory, planning and financial environment

◊Ensure that energy assets are located appropriately, and are designed to maximise                     co-benefits;

♦ Strive to create markets for sustainable farm-based energy, both within local communities, and along the corporate agricultural supply chain (and beyond)

♦ Work to ensure that farms and rural communities have easy, fair and affordable access to the grid.


18.11.14 The Farm Crap App needs your vote!

Following on from the success of the Farm Crap App at the Soil Association Innovation Awards a few weeks ago, the top three entries are now being pitched against each other in a public vote to see which one is the most innovative idea for 2014.

The app is designed to help farmers and growers value the nutrients found in their manures and slurries by providing a visual assessment of spreading rates of different types of manures and calculating the crop available nutrient content of that manure spread at that rate (depending on crop being grown, soil type and season). The app is free to download and doesn’t rely on mobile signal or wi-fi to work so you really can use it in the field.

The app has been developed to help prevent over application of manures and slurries and to promote proactive nutrient management planning which safeguards water quality, minimises greenhouse gas emissions, and reduces fertiliser bills.

If you would like some more information on the app please click here.

To vote for the app in the awards please click here. Voting closes on the 21st November.

18.11.14 RHI Obligations

If you have installed a heat system that is accredited under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme there are various rules and record keeping requirements that you need to adhere to in order to comply with the scheme.

The Farm Energy Centre has produced a guide which explains these ongoing RHI obligations and what you need to do in terms of record keeping.

Download the summary document here.

For more in-depth information and to read the guidance from Ofgem please click here

6.11.14 New IPCC summary reports released

The IPCC released two major reports on Sunday (2nd November), a report which summarises the key findings from the three working group reports which were issued earlier in the year (see earlier blog here), and a summary report on the main findings.

This is the strongest and most unequivocal statement of scientific certainty from the IPCC. Some of the key points are below.

Observed changes and their causes

Human influence on the climate system is clear and recent anthropogenic emissions on greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.

Observed changes in the climate system

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.  The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished and sea levels have risen.

Causes of climate change

Anthropogenic greenhouse have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth and are now higher than ever. This has led to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with these of other anthropogenic drivers have been detected throughout the climate systems and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

Impacts of climate change

In recent decades changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. Impacts are due to observed climate change, irrespective of its cause, indicating the sensitivity of natural and human systems to changing climate.

Future Climate Changes, Risks and Impacts

Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reduction in GHG emissions, which together with adaptation can limit climate change risks.

Predicted change in the climate system

Surface temperature is predicted to rise over the 21st century under all assessed emission scenarios. It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions.  The oceans will continue to warm and acidify and global mean sea level to rise.

Future risks and impacts caused by a changing climate

Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems. Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities.

This includes species extinction, lower oxygen levels for marine organisms, increased vulnerability for coral reefs and polar ecosystems, and increased risk to coastal and low lying regions from sea level rise.

Food security – marine biodiversity will be reduced affecting fisheries production, and in tropical and temperate regions, wheat, rice and maize will be negatively impacted when temps rise higher than 2˚C (although some locations may benefit).

Temperature increases of 4˚C or more combined with increasing food demand will pose large risks to food security globally.

Rural areas are expected to experience major impacts on water availability and supply, food security, infrastructure and agricultural incomes including shifts in the production areas of food and non-food crops.

Climate Change beyond 2100, irreversibility and abrupt changes

Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries even if anthropogenic emissions of GHG are stopped. The risk of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of warming increases.

Future pathways for adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development

 Substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades can reduce climate risks in the 21st century and beyond, increase prospects for effective adaptation, reduce costs and challenges of mitigation in the longer term and contribute to climate resilient pathways for sustainable development.

Risk reduction through mitigation and adaptation

Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high / very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally.

Mitigation in the near term and throughout the century can substantially reduce climate change impacts in latter decades of the 21st century and beyond.

Some risks from climate change are unavoidable even with mitigation and adaptation.

Mitigation

There are multiple mitigation pathways that are likely to limit warming to below 2˚C relative to pre- industrial level. These pathways would require substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades and near zero emission of carbon dioxide and other long lived GHGs by the end of the century. Implementing such reduction poses substantial technological, economic, social and institutional challenges which increase with delays in additional mitigation and if key technologies aren’t available.

Adaptation and mitigation

Many adaptation and mitigation options can help address climate change but no single option is sufficient by itself. Effective implementation depends on policies and co-operation at all scales and can be enhanced through integrated responses that link adaptation and mitigation with other societal objectives.

Mitigation options are available in every sector.

Effective adaptation and mitigation responses will depend on policies and measures across multiple scales, international, regional, national and subnational.

So it all makes for quite scary reading. What stood out for me is that the message is very strong and clear in that we are facing severe widespread and irreversible impacts if we don’t start to reduce emissions and mitigate our actions.

Carbon Visuals, a London based company which aims to help people visualise what carbon emissions look like, has produced this great little animation on what carbon emissions currently look like, and helps us to appreciate the size of the challenge that we all face to reduce GHG emissions and create a sustainable future. The video can be accessed here.

Source: IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report

03.11.14 Energy generation: A view from the farm

Recently appointed FCCT director Andrew Rigg has just taken carbon saving a step further on his farm in Hampshire. An all-electric car, a Nissan Leaf Acenta has arrived in the yard.  With a supply of electricity from his 20kW ground-mounted solar panels, Andrew has not only zero emission driving, but also zero cost…..

The panels are performing well; with 10kW installed at the higher rate, and another 10kW installed in 2013 they are collectively giving a 14% return on investment from the feed in tariff. In addition to this the farm’s electricity bill has been cut by 30%. The farm is a net exporter of electricity.

Not all the solar electricity is being used on the farm. A significant amount is also being exported to the grid with no further benefit to the business. “We looked at all sorts of mad and not so mad ways of using this ‘free’ electricity” says Andrew, “and finally decided that an electric car was a good way to go. The actual financial saving from using your own electricity is not huge, but the satisfaction of this, and never visiting a petrol station again, is immense!”

The range of the Nissan Leaf is about 100 miles, so you have to do some careful planning. This is made easier by the fact that car uses GPS and the phone network to look after you and guide to available charging points on your journey. 

“It’s almost worryingly quiet, but otherwise much like driving an automatic, though in addition to having no clutch it has no gearbox either. If you switch out of ‘Eco Mode’ it has quite fast acceleration, though of course you run the battery down quicker.”

It’s pretty clear to Andrew that these cars are going to get very popular, but there is another dimension to this story.

Nissan are working on a system to use the battery in the car as storage that you can then use to power your house. A fully charged Nissan electric car battery can power the average house for two days. The technology is not quite available yet, but it is not far off. For Andrew this will be an opportunity to maximise the benefits from the solar panels, as he will be able to use his car to store electricity produced from the panels in the day, to power the house in the evening. This will further cut his electricity bill, and put an even bigger grin on his face!

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