The Climate Change Plan update sets out targets to reduce emissions from the agriculture sector. Carbon dioxide emissions associated with stationary combustion sources and off-road machinery use in agriculture contribute significantly to agricultural emissions and have increased between 2020 and 2021.

The impact of agriculture’s energy use can be difficult to account for, with emissions being captured within grouped sectors (electricity, gas and other) of the greenhouse gases inventory. This report examines the energy use and associated emissions baseline on farms and crofts in Scotland, and explores the potential for efficiency measures and new, low-carbon technologies to support energy emissions reductions in the longer term.

Summary of key findings

  • 82% of the emissions from agricultural energy use stem from other energy sources such as coal, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and oils, and 18% from electricity. This is based on the local authority greenhouse gas statistics where emissions are allocated to where the electricity is used, not where it is generated. 
  • The greatest source of emissions from other energy sources is the livestock sector; within this, beef has the greatest energy emissions due to the dominance of this sector in Scotland; dairy has the greatest intensity of emissions per kilogram of production.
  • The first step in the decarbonisation journey is to look at opportunities to reduce energy use. There is great scope for energy efficiency measures to contribute to decarbonising agriculture. This can be achieved through optimising processes and introducing new technologies such as robotics and precision farming.
  • Reducing other energy emissions by fossil switching to electricity will have a large positive impact. Replacing machinery with electric-powered equivalents will reduce cost and carbon emissions in the long term. Whilst electric replacements are not yet suitable for all farm operations where high power is needed, there are viable alternatives for smaller vehicles such as quad bikes, which are already being used across Scotland.
  • The cost and carbon benefits of switching to electric-powered machinery may be optimised by combining this with on-farm renewable power generation.
  • A good mix of low-carbon and renewable energy generation technologies is available across Scotland, which have generally high uptake and market readiness, and strong applicability to the agricultural sector.
  • For most farmers, the introduction of renewable technologies is an incremental process. Each investment decision must provide a good business case. As farms build their renewable capacity, there is the potential to develop further into micro-grid or distribution network connections.
  • Upgrades to energy distribution networks infrastructure could enable more farmers to export energy and accelerate decarbonisation beyond the farm.

For further details, please read the report.

If you require the report in an alternative format, such as a Word document, please contact info@climatexchange.org.uk or 0131 651 4783.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7488/era/4409

Executive summary

Background

The Climate Change Plan update sets out targets to reduce emissions from the agriculture sector. Carbon dioxide emissions associated with stationary combustion sources and off-road machinery use in agriculture contribute significantly to agricultural emissions and have increased between 2020 and 2021. Fossil fuel use for agricultural machinery is estimated to contribute 5 to 10% of agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Scotland.

The impact of agriculture’s energy use can be difficult to account for, with emissions being captured within grouped sectors (electricity, gas and other) of the GHG inventory. This report examines the energy use and associated emissions baseline on farms and crofts in Scotland, and explores the potential for efficiency measures and new, low-carbon technologies to support energy emissions reductions in the longer term.

Key findings

  • 82% of the emissions from agricultural energy use stem from other energy sources such as coal, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and oils, and 18% from electricity. This is based on the local authority greenhouse gas statistics where emissions are allocated to where the electricity is used, not where it is generated.
  • The greatest source of emissions from other energy sources is the livestock sector; within this, beef has the greatest energy emissions due to the dominance of this sector in Scotland; dairy has the greatest intensity of emissions per kilogram of production.
  • The first step in the decarbonisation journey is to look at opportunities to reduce energy use. There is great scope for energy efficiency measures to contribute to decarbonising agriculture. This can be achieved through optimising processes and introducing new technologies such as robotics and precision farming.
  • Reducing other energy emissions by fossil switching to electricity will have a large positive impact. Replacing machinery with electric-powered equivalents will reduce cost and carbon emissions in the long term. Whilst electric replacements are not yet suitable for all farm operations where high power is needed, there are viable alternatives for smaller vehicles such as quad bikes, which are already being used across Scotland.
  • The cost and carbon benefits of switching to electric-powered machinery may be optimised by combining this with on-farm renewable power generation.
  • A good mix of low-carbon and renewable energy generation technologies is available across Scotland, which have generally high uptake and market readiness, and strong applicability to the agricultural sector.
  • For most farmers, the introduction of renewable technologies is an incremental process. Each investment decision must provide a good business case. As farms build their renewable capacity, there is the potential to develop further into micro-grid or distribution network connections.
  • Upgrades to energy distribution networks infrastructure could enable more farmers to export energy and accelerate decarbonisation beyond the farm.

Conclusions

The research identifies the wide variety of technologies available to meet the diversity of on-farm needs for energy efficiency, energy generation and energy use. These can all have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions in the agricultural sector.

The cost of implementation is often an important factor for installing energy technologies. Many energy and process efficiency measures can be implemented on farm with low investment needs. However, the typically high upfront investment costs to install renewable energy generation on farm is frequently noted as a barrier for some farmers.

Another challenge is the limitations on the energy distribution networks. As a result, some businesses are not able to export energy back to the grid depending on their location and logistical constraints.

There are great opportunities to further decarbonise energy use and generation in the agricultural sector. In the correct enabling environment, farms can play a significant role in supporting Scotland’s net zero targets, just transition and circular economy aims.

Abbreviations table

ETs

Electric tractors

EVs

Electric vehicles

GHs

Greenhouses

REA

Rapid Evidence Assessment

PV

Photovoltaic

APV

Agrophotovoltaics

NAEI

National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory

BEV

Battery electric vehicles

GHG

Greenhouse gas

LPG

Liquified petroleum gas

AD

Anaerobic Digestion

SEG

Smart Export Guarantee

RHI

Renewable Heat Incentive

CHP

Combined Heat and Power

NRMM

Non-road mobile machinery

Introduction

There are great opportunities for agriculture to play a leading role in the just transition to a low carbon economy. From the implementation of low carbon technologies, application of alternative fuels, and use of energy efficiency measures, agricultural businesses will be able to benefit from decarbonisation through reduced energy use, more efficient processes and technologies, and on-site clean energy generation. Scottish agriculture could also function as an enabler of wider decarbonisation if surplus energy can be generated to meet off-site market demands.

The decarbonisation of energy use and a transition to low carbon energy generation within the agriculture sector is an essential consideration for Scotland to:

  • Meet the 2030 interim 75% emissions reduction target, and the 2045 target for the country to reach net zero GHG emissions.
  • Support Scottish Government’s commitment to creating a circular economy which supports GHG reductions from manufacturing and transportation and develops safeguards against potential future resource shortages.
  • Support Scottish Government’s vision to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

As detailed in the Climate Change Plan Update 2018-23[1], Scotland has an abundance of renewable resources. More than 87.8% of the electricity generated in Scotland during 2021 came from renewable and low carbon sources, and there is scope to go further. There are opportunities for the agricultural sector to both decarbonise its own activities and to also play a strategic role in decarbonising energy used across Scotland.

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring a just transition to a low carbon, climate resilient economy, as outlined in the draft ‘Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan’[2]. It is particularly vital now as the climatic changes signal the urgency with which we need to act, whilst at the same time the cost-of-living crisis is putting real pressure on government, householders and businesses. Scotland has already taken steps to support a just transition, including setting up the first Just Transition Commission (JTC) which made twenty-four recommendations in March 2021[3]. These were all accepted by the Scottish Government and include recommendations such as:

  • establishing a just transition plan for Scotland’s land and agriculture, with clear milestones to 2045, supporting Scottish agriculture to deliver climate action; and
  • committing to creating communities that embed low-carbon lifestyles.

The agriculture sector and land-based economy is highly vulnerable to climate changes[4],[5]: recent unpredictable weather, from the ‘beast from the east’ to 2022’s unusually dry conditions have all had a huge impact on productivity and farm incomes. Farmers and crofters have also been hard hit by price rises resulting from the war in Ukraine and the disruption to the labour market post-Brexit. Many producers in energy intensive sectors such as poultry and horticulture responded to this by pausing or reducing production rather than risk producing at a loss.

There are significant opportunities for agricultural businesses to benefit from low-carbon energy generation. The potential to reduce costs of generate revenue will vary from business to business; examples of potential benefits are:

  • Introducing more efficient processes and technologies will reduce the overall energy requirements so saving money and reducing emissions.
  • Replacing machinery and vehicles with electric equivalents may provide cost savings for the business in the long-term and significantly reduce agricultural emissions. Cost benefits are further optimised if the business can utilise their own energy generated from on-farm renewables.
  • Installing renewable generation technologies means farms can become more self-sufficient and resilient to fluctuations in energy supply costs.
  • New opportunities for a diversified income stream through the production of energy on-farm or through leasing land for renewable energy generation.

Aim

This report maps out the baseline for current energy used on farms and crofts in Scotland using National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) data and sets out the available evidence base and gaps. Secondly, the available literature of opportunities and barriers for low carbon energy production and use on Scottish farms is assessed, and any evidence gaps and topics of debate are documented. Finally, the study analyses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and barriers for specific technologies, and the various factors that enable or prevent current and future uptake.

Energy use baseline and generation sources

Estimation of emissions

This report has taken the approach to estimate the on-farm emissions from energy use based on local authority (LA) breakdowns. As part of the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI[6]), emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) are calculated at LA level on an end user basis[7].

Using this approach, estimates from energy use in agriculture for 2021 are shown in the table below (kt CO2 equivalent), taken from the LA statistics and aggregated to agricultural regions. Further details of energy use may be found in Appendix A of this report.

Table 1: Electricity, gas, and other fuel emissions estimates for 2021 shown in kt CO2e. This table covers everything from the inventory, including both rural and urban estimates. For our estimations covered in the following tables, we excluded urban areas to reduce anomalies in the data.

Agricultural Region

Electricity

Gas[8]

‘Other’[9]

Total

Argyll and Bute

12.79

0.31

37.67

50.77

Ayrshire

13.40

20.55

83.18

117.13

Clyde Valley

18.50

20.37

72.32

111.19

Dumfries and Galloway

23.21

0.68

168.16

192.05

East Central

8.83

1.00

32.67

42.50

Fife

14.88

35.53

29.96

80.37

Grampian

34.47

14.28

157.01

205.76

Highland

26.40

3.77

99.75

129.92

Lothian

11.94

9.97

33.82

55.73

Na h-Eileanan Siar

3.11

0.00

10.45

13.56

Orkney

4.63

0.00

37.04

41.67

Scottish Borders

13.94

0.77

95.52

110.23

Shetland

3.67

0.00

19.23

22.90

Tayside

27.94

7.88

84.18

120.00

Total

217.71

115.11

960.96

1293.78

As the data from the NAEI is not broken down by livestock or crop type, the Scottish agricultural census[10] (which provides the head count of livestock and hectares of crops at regional level[11]) has been combined with typical fuel consumption factors (detailed in section 9.1.1 of this report). This was used as a proxy to disaggregate and spatially resolve the above GHG energy emissions (Table 1) into crop and livestock type by region. This provides a breakdown of rural emission estimates for electricity, gas and ‘other’ (urban emissions were removed). ‘Other’ fuels include coal, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and oils for static and mobile machinery. These emissions are calculated on an end user basis. Emissions are allocated to where they are used, not where they are generated.

The energy emissions by agricultural region in the livestock and crop sectors are presented in the maps and tables below. A full methodology can be found in Appendix A. The table below shows a summary of energy use emissions across Scotland by sector. Their implied intensities have been calculated (CO2e emissions divided by headcount/hectare total) to facilitate meaningful comparisons.

Table 2a: Livestock sector- Total sectoral emissions from rural energy use (all fuels) by sector for Scotland shown in kt CO2e.

Rank

Livestock Sector

Scotland total energy use emissions (kt CO2e) 

Scotland 2021 Census Totals (head)

Intensity (kg CO2e /head)

1

Dairy

205.64  

517,988.00

397

2

Pig breeding

15.02

64,772.00

231.89

3

Beef

326.76   

1,855,072.00

176.14

4

Sheep

119.56

13,663,410.00

8.75

5

Poultry layers

28.74

15,020,619.00

1.91

6

Poultry broilers

3.98

11,963,706.00

0.33

 n/a

Pig other

0

607,158.00

 n/a

 n/a

Other livestock

0

131,813.00

 n/a

 

Total

699.7

43,824,538.00

 

The livestock sector accounts for approximately 63% of the energy use emissions of agriculture in Scotland. Beef has the highest overall energy emissions when compared to all other sectors, emitting over 100 kt CO2e more than the dairy sector, which is the second largest CO2 emitting sector. This is largely due to the scale of beef production in Scotland. The table above is ranked by the emissions intensity; the greatest emissions per head (emissions intensity) is from dairy production, which is more than twice as energy intensive as beef. When looking at the data above it is important to note that energy is a significant cost to intensive poultry production, but due to the number of birds per shed it is not well represented in this intensity figure. However, it would be significant if we looked at energy intensity per hectare of production.

The table below shows some of the typical energy uses on livestock farms.

Table 2b: Typical energy uses in the livestock sector.

Sector

Energy requirements

Dairy

Chillers, heating, lighting, small amount of warm/hot water. Some mobile (e.g., spreaders, HGVs needed for on-farm feed production). Some energy needs for robotic milking.

Poultry (layers)

Heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in housing.

Poultry (broilers)

Heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in housing.

Broilers – high demand on day 1 – diminishing heat demand as birds grow, but ventilation demand increases.

Pig

Housed pigs- Intensive heat and lighting energy use.

Sheep

Small amount on mobile machinery, small amount of electricity or fuel for a generator for sheering machinery. Small amount heating and light for lambing and small amount of warm/hot water for washing.

Beef

Low demands, similar to sheep. Small amount on mobile machinery. Small amount heating/lighting for calving and for small amount of warm/hot water for washing

Table 2c: Cropping/horticulture sector- Total sectoral emissions from rural energy use (all fuels) by sector for Scotland shown in kt CO2e.

Sector

Scotland total energy use emissions (kt CO2e) 

Scotland 2021 Census Totals (hectare)

Intensity (kg CO2e/hectare)

Potatoes

81.55

56,835.50

1,434.84

Wheat

87.46

209,100.90

418.27

Barley (spring)

192.59

497,774.50

386.9

Barley (winter)

31.64

86,492.80

365.81

Peas and beans

1.38

4,729.30

291.8

Oilseed and linseed

18.61

66,682.60

279.08

Orchard and soft fruit

0.31

4,630.30

66.95

Total

413.54

926,245.90

 

Cropping and horticulture accounts for approximately 37% of the energy use emissions from agriculture in Scotland. Within the cropping and horticultural sectors, spring barley had the greatest emissions and produced more emissions from energy use than some livestock sectors, such as sheep, pigs, and poultry. However, emissions associated with the production of potatoes are shown to be the most intensive when area of production is taken into account. The table below covers the typical energy uses in cropping and horticultural sectors.

Table 2d: Typical energy uses in cropping/horticulture.

Sector

Energy requirements

Cereals

Drying of harvested crops (typically required in Scotland). Cultivation power, drilling, harvest, transport (to storage on farm)

Fresh peas

Cultivation power, drilling, harvest, chilling (most peas in Scotland are fresh).

Potatoes

Cultivation power, sowing, harvest and storage, chiller, dark house. Depends on variety (seed potatoes). Some mobile machinery.

Soft fruit

Energy intensive for chilling, and for heating of soft fruit growing environment to extend growing season and displace carbon intensive imports. Some mobile machinery, depending on produce

The maps below show the energy use emissions associated with livestock and crops across Scotland, indicating the areas with greater or fewer emissions from either sector.

Figure 1: Emissions (kt CO2e) associated with livestock (left) and crops (right) at regional level in Scotland.

As can be seen from figure 1, the largest emitters of energy emissions associated with livestock are located in the southwest of Scotland (Dumfries & Galloway and Ayrshire); the same areas are low emitters of emissions associated with the growing of crops.

For energy emissions associated with crops, Eastern Scotland (Grampian) is the largest emitter. However, this area also has the highest number of hectares of crops in Scotland and it can be noted from figure 2 below that this area is one of the most efficient in terms of CO2e per hectare. The east of Scotland is generally more efficient for both crops and livestock than the western or northern parts of Scotland.

Conversely, Argyll, Orkney, Shetland, and the Outer Hebrides are areas of low crop related emissions but high intensity of CO2e per hectare, however this may be a reflection of low numbers of crops grown in those areas.

Figure 2: Relative emissions (kt CO2e) associated with livestock (left) and crops (right) at regional level in Scotland.

The table below (Table 3) shows the emissions by livestock and cropping sectors for each LA. Electricity emissions have come from the NAEI Local Authority GHG (LA GHG) data. Proxy data has been applied to the LA GHG emissions to split it into the different agricultural sectors. The table shows that for each region the emissions from other energy inputs (including coal, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and oils for static and mobile machinery) exceed those from electricity use.

Table 3: Energy use emissions by agricultural region, split out by sector type and fuel input type, in kt CO2eq.

Agriculture Region

Energy Input  

Livestock Sector Energy Emissions (kt CO2e)

Cropping Sector Energy Emissions (kt CO2e)

Total emissions (kt CO2e)

Argyll and Bute

electricity

11.68

1.06

12.74

Argyll and Bute

other

35.25

2.28

37.53

Ayrshire

electricity

12.31

0.99

13.3

Ayrshire

other

73.21

9.35

82.56

Clyde Valley

electricity

14.98

1.8

16.78

Clyde Valley

other

56.92

8.28

65.2

Dumfries and Galloway

electricity

20.96

1.38

22.34

Dumfries and Galloway

other

146.33

15.64

161.97

East Central

electricity

5.57

2.57

8.14

East Central

other

20.83

9.45

30.28

Fife

electricity

4.14

10.58

14.72

Fife

other

8.51

21.11

29.62

Grampian

electricity

11.26

20.65

31.91

Grampian

other

59.68

85.53

145.21

Highland

electricity

6.8

18.42

25.22

Highland

other

56.89

38.35

95.24

Lothian

electricity

2.9

6.69

9.59

Lothian

other

8.48

18.81

27.29

Na h-Eileanan Siar

electricity

1.46

1.59

3.05

Na h-Eileanan Siar

other

9.98

0.27

10.25

Orkney

electricity

2.58

1.94

4.52

Orkney

other

31.28

5.06

36.34

Scottish Borders

electricity

7.31

6.26

13.57

Scottish Borders

other

46.53

46.7

93.23

Shetland

electricity

3.28

0.42

3.7

Shetland

other

19.08

0.11

19.19

Tayside

electricity

3.2

21.66

24.86

Tayside

other

18.32

56.61

74.93

Total

 

699.72

413.56

1,113.28

This report estimates total on-farm emissions from energy use to be 1.1 MtCO2e. However, energy emissions in the agriculture sector in Scotland as reported in the UK National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) were 0.91 MtCO2e in 2021. The vast majority of these emissions reported in this figure (0.91) relate purely to emissions associated with mobile machinery, such as tractors, harvesters and other on-farm vehicles. A smaller amount of these energy emissions are related to energy combusted by static machinery; for example, generators, grain dryers, chillers, or robot milkers.

Emissions from the NAEI are reported in a variety of different formats for different purposes each year. One of these is the end user format (used in this report) in which emissions from the production and processing of fuels, and the production of electricity, are reallocated to final consumers of the energy to reflect the total emissions relating to that energy use. This difference in reporting mainly affects emissions related to electricity generation from power stations and fuel processing in refineries. This is in contrast to the ‘by source’ or ‘by territory’ emission reporting (in e.g., the devolved administration (DA) inventories) in which emissions are attributed to the sector that emits them directly.

In the LA statistics, the end user estimates are calculated using postcode level gas and electricity meter readings, in conjunction with employment statistics in the calculation. There are various spatial distributions that may be aggregated to the LA level[12]. This subsequently provides a spatial estimate of electricity, gas and other fuel use in Scotland. Consequently, this will pick up non-farm energy use on farm buildings, such as holiday rentals, as well as all mobile machinery and static combustion elements. The purpose of this is to demonstrate the broader potential for low energy production on farms to reduce emissions from energy use. As a result, the estimation of baseline emissions using this approach as higher, at 1.1 MtCO2e, than those reported in the UK NAEI for Scotland.

In summary, the approach used in this report uses the LA dataset as its starting point, and the results will therefore differ from any other published data, such as the 0.91 MtCO2e figure, which uses a different/by source dataset (e.g., DA inventory) as it’s starting point.

Summary remarks based on the estimation of emissions

Table 3 indicates that efforts to reduce agricultural emissions would be most effective if targeted at processes that currently rely on other fuels. This may be through identifying opportunities to improve the efficiency of these operations or technologies that enable the electrification of processes that previously relied on fossil fuels. Decarbonisation will be further optimised if the electricity used is generated through renewables.

82% of the emissions from agricultural energy use stem from other energy sources (coal, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and oils), and 18% from electricity. From the data, it is evident that livestock ‘other energy’ emissions are a substantial contributor to the overall energy use emissions from agriculture in Scotland. Efforts to reduce this through efficiency measures or fuel switching will have a significant impact. This is illustrated in the figure below, which provides a snapshot of the sources of energy use emissions for the agricultural sector overall and split by cropping and livestock sectors in Scotland.

Figure 3: Sources of energy use emissions for agriculture overall and split by sectors.

Gaps in baseline estimate

The literature provided data on the typical energy consumption of various sectors; however, the dominant fuel (or mix of fuels) used within the ‘other’ energy consumption category is less well documented. For example, although the use of petroleum products is widespread in the poultry sector (particularly for heating), there is little data on the relative proportional use of these products. There is a need to gather more detailed information on the use of petroleum products for various agricultural practices to better understand these gaps in the future. Similarly, there is limited information on the use of individual electricity generators and their fuel consumption.

Most data found in the literature are from 2005, as more updated benchmarks containing the energy consumption breakdown required were not publicly available. However, it was found that mobile machinery benchmarks (as shown in Table 9.1.1) remained the same in the literature between 2005 and 2023, suggesting the non-mobile machinery 2005 statistics are still relevant and provide a reasonable basis for calculations.

While the literature provided specific data on the majority of sectors, some were not explicitly defined in terms of energy consumption. For example, the sectors of ‘oilseed and linseed’ and ‘peas and beans’ were included in a broader ‘other arable’ category that also contained sugar beet. Furthermore, the literature contained energy consumption values for sows is derived from energy inputs associated with maiden gilts, piglets, and boars. Therefore, no consumption values were attributed to non-breeding pigs as these were incorporated into the sow data.

Evidence base

A Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) of peer-reviewed and grey literature was used to evaluate renewable energy technologies currently adopted in Scotland. The methodology can be found in Appendix 2. This evidence was supported by the expert knowledge of the project team. The review focused on identifying:

  • Barriers and enablers of technology specific to the agricultural sector to reduce demand for fossil fuels and support the decarbonisation of on-site energy use.
  • Opportunities and benefits for the agriculture sector to support the wider decarbonisation of energy production at a systems level through renewable energy production.
  • Current potential for the agricultural sector to benefit from an emerging second-hand market for renewables and renewable components and opportunities for the farming community to participate in a circular economy, such as reusing and repurposing alternative energy components.
  • Land use implications from low carbon energy production with a focus on farms (but with a consideration of wider landscape impacts), and the potential impact on agricultural production.

The following sections discuss information found in the REA, covering renewable energy technologies relevant to Scotland which are ‘areas of confident knowledge’, including a summary table of technology applications and details such as market uptake and cost; key evidence gaps highlighted from the REA; and areas under active debate.

Reducing the demand for fossil fuels and supporting the decarbonisation of on-site energy use

Energy efficiency

The first step in a decarbonisation journey is to look at opportunities to reduce energy use and support or enhance energy efficiency. There are many agricultural businesses in Scotland for whom this will provide opportunities for reducing energy use. Typically, implementing energy saving measures provides long-term cost savings and many can be low or no-cost to implement, though some will require a more significant investment. Energy consumption and opportunities to save energy vary considerably between businesses, depending on the operating farming system and the efficiency with which the system is managed.

Teagasc[13] report that energy costs in dairy farms vary from €15-45 per cow per year; this variance indicates the scale of opportunity for efficiencies. The Carbon Trust[14] note that key areas of energy consumption (and therefore areas in which efficiency measures will have most the impact) are lighting, heating, ventilation, air circulation, and refrigeration.

The following table provides an overview of energy efficiency technologies that can be deployed across a range of farm sectors in Scotland[15].

Table 6: Overview of potential energy efficiency measures

Mitigation option

Technology

GHG reduction

Precision farming technology

VRA N fertiliser for 500 ha farm, assuming a 200 HP, GPS compatible tractor is available on the farm

Soil N2O, energy CO2, increased yield

Precision farming technology

Auto guidance for 500 ha farm, assuming 2 tractors (200 HP, GPS compatible) are available on the farm

Soil N2O, energy CO2, increased yield

Precision farming technology

Controlled traffic system

Soil N2O, energy CO2, increased yield

Precision farming technology

Basic system (auto-steering, yield monitor, VRA seeding)

Soil N2O, energy CO2, increased yield

Precision farming technology

Site specific weed management for 500 ha farm

Soil N2O, energy CO2, increased yield

Precision farming technology

Tractor control

Soil N2O, energy CO2, increased yield

Precision farming technology

Variable rate seed drill

Soil N2O, energy CO2, increased yield

Precision farming technology

Variable rate fertiliser spreader

Soil N2O, energy CO2, increased yield

Precision livestock farming

EID readers and software

All livestock emissions, yield

Precision livestock farming

Weigh crate (weighing and automatic sorting of sheep)

All livestock emissions, yield

Precision livestock farming

Silent herdsman – cattle heat detection (collars, base station & PC with software)

All livestock emissions, yield

Precision livestock farming

HeatWatch – cattle heat detection (patch, base station, software)

All livestock emissions, yield

Precision livestock farming

Robotic milking in dairy cow (auto milking system with dynamic feeding related to milk yield; ID of animals with treatment)

All livestock emissions, yield

Precision livestock farming

Virtual fence (battery powered receiver on collar, induction cable & transformer)

All livestock emissions, yield

Minimum tillage and no-till

Direct drill to reduce the number of tractor journeys

Energy CO2, increased yield

Capital investment in fuel switching

Electric quad bikes

Energy CO2

Capital investment in fuel switching

Electric lift trucks

Energy CO2

Capital investment in fuel switching

Euro 3 engines

Energy CO2

Capital investment in fuel switching

Solar panel pumps to transport water in grazing systems

Energy CO2

Energy efficient heating and ventilation of livestock buildings

Energy efficient fans and fan controllers

Energy CO2

Energy efficient heating and ventilation of livestock buildings

Biomass boiler (fuel switch)

Energy CO2

Energy efficient heating and ventilation of livestock buildings

Lagging pipes (hot and cold)

Energy CO2

Energy efficient heating and ventilation of livestock buildings

Other tech and building design

Energy CO2

Energy efficient crop drying

Biomass boiler

Energy CO2 (grain stirrers might increase fuel use)

Energy efficient crop drying

Grain stirrer

Energy CO2 (as above)

Energy efficient crop drying

Moisture sensors

Energy CO2 (as above)

Energy efficient milking and milk handling

Heat recovery

Energy CO2

Energy efficient milking and milk handling

Variable speed milk pumps

Energy CO2

Energy efficient milking and milk handling

Lagging tanks

Energy CO2

Energy efficient milking and milk handling

Maintaining condensers and ensuring they are well located to avoid recirculating warm air

Energy CO2

Low-emission livestock housing

Littered system (gestating sows) (retrofit more expensive)

Energy CO2

Low emission livestock housing

Littered system (growers-finishers) (retrofit more expensive)

Energy CO2

Low emission livestock housing

Manure channel with sloped floor (weaners) (retrofit more expensive)

Energy CO2

Low emission livestock housing

Manure channel with sloped floor (growers-finishers) (retrofit more expensive)

Energy CO2

Low emission livestock housing

Other building design features

Energy CO2

Efficient lighting systems

Using timer switches

Energy CO2

Efficient lighting systems

Replacing halogen floodlights with sodium lights

Energy CO2

Efficient lighting systems

Optimising natural light in buildings and ensuring windows are kept clean to maximise impacts

Energy CO2

Robotics

A number of the measures detailed above are automated or robotic. It is not yet considered achievable to have fully autonomous, robotic, energy-independent farms (Ghobadpour et al., 2022) but robotics are an important set of technologies that can support low-carbon agricultural production systems.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) enable greater farming accuracy, lightweighting of machinery (which has a co-benefit of enabling positive environmental benefits) and, in comparison to humans, a longer work time, enabling great efficiency (Krishna, K.R., 2017). An EU foresight study predicted that around 50% of all European herds will be milked by robots by 2025 (Duckett et al., 2018). Robotic systems are also starting to perform other tasks around the farm, such as removing waste from animal cubicle pens, and carrying and moving feedstuffs. Other RAS already in use include GPS driven tractors and systems for autonomously monitoring livestock and collecting field data, which are all commercially viable and useful for efficient and productive livestock farming. These are just the start; there are considerably more robotic applications under development, although most agricultural RAS are currently far from commercialisation (Gorjian et al., 2021)

Despite the clear value of robotics, there is limited information in the literature discussing the ability for RAS to contribute to the decarbonisation of the agriculture sector in Scotland. A causation could be because the UK Agri-Food RAS community is still small and highly dispersed (Duckett et al., 2018).

Electric vehicles

Agricultural battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have the potential to provide numerous benefits such as emission reduction, low operating costs, on farm charging, and vehicle-to-grid technology creating a new source of income. In the long-term, it is likely that BEVs will be the preferred technology for replacing current diesel-powered internal combustion engine machinery; however, Baker et al. (2022) found that there is a lack of international progress in encouraging the uptake of low-emission machinery. Nevertheless, this means there is an opportunity for Scotland to set a standard in encouraging low-emission machinery.

The most common debate found in literature is whether battery powered agricultural vehicles are a practical solution in agriculture, with many stating that currently, electric vehicles (EV) are not suitable for use in agriculture (Baker et al., 2022). However, this comment is generally associated with larger EVs on farm, such as electric tractors. Electric quadbikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and 4x4s have been on the market for several years and are gaining popularity due to the low-cost of charging compared to conventional mobile machinery and quieter operation. Electric ATVs are a prime example of EVs that work well within the sheep and beef sectors in Scotland, where livestock are often located in the uplands and highlands.

The debate around the suitability of larger EVs (e.g., tractors or combine harvesters) in agriculture generally stems from the low energy density, heavy batteries and if they can take over from diesel powered vehicles with the nature of agricultural work. The energy density of lithium-ion batteries (circa 200Wh/kg is significantly lower than diesel (11.6kWh/kg)) (Pearson et al., 2022). An average tractor diesel engine requires a 400l energy reserve of fuel (9.8 kWh/l resulting in a total of 3,920 kWh or 1,670 kWh due to the 40-45% engine efficiency). The equivalent full electric variant utilising Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries (best values of the battery pack expected in 2025, midterm 0.2 to 0.25 kWh/kg), results in a total of 2,000 kWh due to the high battery efficiency, weighs 9-10 tonnes and takes 5,000 l in volume to do the same 8 hours of work[16]. Despite batteries being more energy efficient, this still leads to several concerns:

  • Heavy batteries limit the range and usage of agricultural machinery and can increase soil compaction if the vehicle weight is not effectively distributed through vehicle design, leading to a range of environmental and productivity issues on farm.
  • There is a debate surrounding the environmental impact of battery production, in particular the procurement of the rare materials and minerals required[17].
  • Charge time is another concern under debate, with heavy, powerful machinery requiring significant time to charge. Although this can be overcome with powerful charging infrastructure, this comes at a cost. Farmers may also overcome this with reduced operation time or multiple charging sessions, both of which however do not make for an economically competitive case against the diesel counterpart (Baker et al., 2022).

Currently there is reluctancy to adopt EVs without incentives (such as grants, subsidies and market price) (Jones et al., 2020) and whilst there is evidence to support the suitability of EVs for small scale horticulture, indoor fruit growing, and grounds maintenance activities (supporting the main driver that smaller electric machines allow farmers to undertake activities indoors and close to the farm40), there is a current inability to support all farming activities (Baker, P., et al 2022). As a result, some believe the current constraints will result in large internal combustion engine vehicles remaining in use for many years to come (Duckett et al., 2018), while others believe low carbon fuels and/or hybrid systems incorporating a combustion engine and a battery may be one possible technological solution.

Although energy and process efficiency is a starting point to reduce energy use, the benefits to the business and to the environment may be further optimised if the business is also able to explore combining energy efficiency with renewable energy production. In the right setting and application, this can provide significant cost savings in the long-term and a reduction in GHG emissions.

Opportunities to support the wider decarbonisation of energy production

There are a range of renewable technologies relevant to Scotland that are already installed across the country in various agricultural settings. This section discusses those technologies and provides an overview of their applications in the agriculture sector. Tables 4 below provides an overview of different alternative energy generation and use technologies on farm, covering the following details: energy vector, sector coverage, market readiness, current installed capacity in Scotland, capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX) per annum (pa), quantified CO2 abatement potential (for individual installations, rather than the nation-wide abatement potential), and the public acceptability of installations based on survey data.

Where the table states ‘n/a’, there was no available data. The availability of this data shows that there is a need for further surveying of public opinion on the acceptability of anaerobic digestors, for example. Market readiness relates to how ready the technology is to enter the market; those that are already widely available are noted as ‘high’, and those that aren’t widely available are defined as ‘low’ (where information was available).

Table 4: Overview table of alternative energy generators providing a snapshot of information about some selected technologies.

 

Vector

Sector suitability

Market readiness

Installed capacity

CAPEX

OPEX (pa)

Abatement potential

Acceptability

Wind turbine

Elect.

Arable, livestock

High

8.8 GW

£7k for 1.5 kW

~£100 per turbine

6g CO2/kWh

High[18]

Solar PV panels

Elect.

Arable, livestock

High

410 MW

£200k for 250 kW

~£100 per panel

41g CO2/kWh

High[19]

Anaerobic digestor

Elect.

Arable, livestock

n/a

89,332 MWh (e)

£1.5m for 250 kW

£110k for 250 kW

n/a

n/a

Biogas

Arable, livestock

102,182 MWh (h)

Hydroelectric dam

Elect.

Arable, livestock

High

1,666 MW

£963k for 250 kW

£25k for 250 kW

24g CO2/kWh

Variable[20]

Heat pumps

Heat

Arable, livestock

High

390 GWh

£15k for 16kW

£0.03/kWh

n/a

High

Biomass boiler

Heat

Arable, livestock

High

2.07 GW

£20k

£0.05/kWh

n/a

High

Solar

Solar PV capacity increased rapidly in Scotland between 2010 (2MW) and 2016 (326MW) but the pace slowed thereafter, reaching a capacity of 522MW by March 2023[21]. Solar energy holds much potential as a renewable energy source for on-farm agricultural operations (Gorjian et al., 2021). In Scotland, solar energy has been utilised in a variety of ways, including the use of solar PV to power on-farm cold stores for potatoes and providing electrical supply to remote farm buildings (Muneer & Dowell, 2022).

Throughout the literature it is noted that solar is a popular renewable technology within the poultry industry (Sutherland et al., 2017). An example of this is a farm in eastern Scotland producing 215,000 Ross broilers, which uses solar energy to power the ventilation systems and move feed in their seven shed production system[22]. Further examples include the establishment of solar panels within fields typically used for pasture and silage production, such a set up allows for livestock to continue grazing within these fields[23].

In some instances, solar installations may occupy land better suited for agricultural production. A potential opportunity to combine low-carbon energy production and agricultural production simultaneously is agrophotovoltaics (APV), or agrovoltaic energy. APV systems consist of solar panels integrated within productive agricultural land. In arable applications of APVs, the APVs protect the crops against the sun’s heat and reduce evapotranspiration in the soil. In pastoral systems the APVs provide shade for livestock in hot weather. This option may be more suitable to warmer climates, but with a changing climate it is important to consider the range of climate smart agricultural adaptation measures that can be deployed on farms. Such systems are predicted to increase land values and productivity for producers by 35-73% (Rahman et al., 2022).

There is additional potential for the development of solar powered vehicle charging and electrical storage. Rooftop and ground-mounted solar chargers have been on the market for well over a decade[24]. Currently, charging points largely exist within private and public settings for electric vehicles. Over the next four years, the Scottish Government is providing £28 million for the manufacturing and deployment of zero emission, heavy duty vehicles[25]. A more niche market of ‘solar carports’ for on-farm vehicle charging is slowly developing in the UK. However, more research is required on its applicability for agricultural vehicles, particularly for energy storage and charging technology (Ghobadpour et al., 2022).

Wind

In Scotland, onshore wind forms the largest single technology provider of renewable energy. Significant advances in research and the development of wind energy have increased production over the last 20 years. In 2022, wind was responsible for generating a total output of 21,975 GWh, accounting for 62% of all renewable electricity generation in the country[26].

The introduction of renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) in 2002, led to an increase in the economic viability of wind energy generation for large-scale projects (more than 5MW) on farms (Sutherland et al., 2015). ROCs formed part of the domestic energy and climate change policy, implemented to encourage investment in renewable electricity generation. Feed-in-tariffs (FIT) were later introduced in 2010 by the UK government in favour of small to medium-scale projects (less than 5MW) with both ROCs and FIT guaranteeing electricity prices, thus further contributing to the uptake of wind turbines. However, the literature identifies that the reductions in feed-in-tariff payments (due to rapid uptake in recent years) led to much uncertainty amongst farmers wanting to invest in renewables (Sutherland et al., 2015). It is hoped that this has been negated by the introduction of both Contracts for Difference (CfDs) and the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme.

CfDs were implemented as the government’s main scheme for supporting large-scale, low carbon renewable generation. CfDs aim to incentivise developers to invest in renewable energy by protecting against volatile wholesale prices, whilst also protecting consumers against rising electricity prices[27]. The SEG scheme came into effect in January 2020. This is a government-initiated tariff for businesses and homes who have installed small-scale renewable or low carbon technology which enables them to receive payments from electricity suppliers for surplus electricity exported to the electricity distribution network[28].

Wind energy presents farmers with the opportunity to lease out land to energy producers on an annual basis or alternatively to produce energy and sell back to the electricity market any surplus energy that is not used directly on the farm (Albanito et al., 2022). Commercial wind farms can be found extensively throughout Scotland and work well in remote locations due to windy weather conditions. Large concentrations of turbines tend to be found towards northern latitudes and the uplands (Shepherd et al., 2021). Agricultural holdings characterised by large areas of crop and fallow land, mixed agricultural land, improved grassland, livestock grazing, and other areas of low agricultural value are well suited (Ge et al., 2017). The appropriate siting of wind farms is crucial. Care needs to be taken that wind turbines are not situated on pristine and deep peatlands. The disturbance during construction releasing large quantities of CO2 from peaty soils, negating the effect of reducing overall emissions[29].

Small-scale wind power offers numerous opportunities within off-grid use in agriculture. In more rural areas where electricity distribution network connectivity is lacking or too expensive, the use of small-scale (5 to 50kW) and stand-alone turbines have become increasingly important [30]. Small wind turbines can be used in a similar way to photovoltaics, for example:

  • to charge on-farm batteries
  • for the heating or pumping of water
  • electric fencing for livestock
  • lighting and
  • functioning of small electronic systems[31].

Wind power remains a popular option for renewable energy production for both wider consumption and local use given its reliability, low maintenance costs and design lifetime. Throughout the literature there remains much debate over the competition for use of land in agriculture, both in terms of function (food versus fuel), as well as control (farmer versus corporation). This is discussed in greater detail in section 5.4. The use of pastoral land or marginal land negates the loss of crop area and reduces the risk of farm machinery damaging wind turbines. Furthermore, given that livestock are capable of grazing underneath these turbines, producers can continue to graze land with limited land area lost to turbines, substations, and access infrastructure (Shepherd et al., 2021).

The effectiveness of this technology ultimately depends on the average wind speed and the need for energy storage mechanisms (Ghobadpour et al., 2022).

Bioenergy

Bioenergy refers to use of organic material to produce electricity or heat or to make fuels. Bioenergy can come in various forms, including solid biomass, biogas or liquid biofuels. In the context of Scottish agriculture, many farms have adopted solid biomass boilers which burn virgin wood chips, pellets, or logs to heat poultry sheds, farm buildings or workshops, on-farm residential buildings, and greenhouses, and to dry grain, for example.

Alternatively, biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide) can be produced from agricultural residues such as animal manure, crops, and crop residues via anaerobic digestion (AD). The resulting biogas can be combusted in a boiler or in a CHP engine. According to the National Farmers Union (NFU), farms host over half of the Great Britain’s AD capacity[32].

Both solid biomass and AD have been supported by the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which was effective since 2011 but closed to new applicants in 2021. According to Non-Domestic RHI statistics[33] which represents installations across Great Britain, more than 30% of RHI capacity is in the agricultural sector (the sector with the greatest uptake of the scheme). Across the full duration of the scheme, solid biomass boilers account for 77% of all applications. However, in recent years the share of biomass boiler applications has reduced. In 2022, 58% of applications were solid biomass with heat pumps forming the second highest share at 39%.

The UK Government’s Green Gas Support Scheme (GGSS) launched in late 2021 to support AD sites who upgrade biogas to biomethane and inject this to the gas grid. Farmers can utilise this opportunity by selling their feedstocks to a biomethane plant. Some farms which are located on the gas grid may wish to inject biomethane directly into the grid themselves. An updated UK Biomass Strategy[34] was published in August 2023, which outlines a priority use framework for the best uses of sustainable bioenergy across the UK. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government planned to release a Bioenergy Action Plan in 2023[35] to take account of decisions that are devolved to the Scottish Government.

Projections of bioenergy demand across sectors in Scotland were carried out in 2022 by Ricardo on behalf of CXC[36]. In agriculture, the demand for bioenergy is expected to grow from 0.8 TWh in 2020 to 3.3 TWh by 2030 predominantly due to an increased demand for biomethane from AD. For modelling purposes however, the report assumes that by 2045 agricultural bioenergy demand will drop to zero since electricity generation via Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) as a negative emissions technology is expected to dominate bioenergy demand in Scotland.

Heat Pumps (Air-Source and Ground-Source)

Heat pumps are an alternative low carbon heating solution relevant to agriculture in Scotland. Energy is extracted from the air, ground or water and delivered to a building as heat using electricity to run its components, primarily a compressor. Heat pumps are more efficient than combustion boilers or electric boilers. However, the efficiency can vary across the heating season and across different building use cases. In Scotland, the Heat in Buildings Strategy sets out a vision to improve heat in buildings and various actions being deployed in the building sector to reduce GHG emissions and support economic opportunities, as well as alleviate fuel poverty[37].

There is an absence of literature discussing the potential of heat pumps in the Scottish agricultural sector. However, it is well-documented from UK case studies that heat pumps can be used to serve agricultural processes. For example, a 6.2 MW Ground-Source Heat Pump (GSHP) was installed in 2021 near Berwick-upon-Tweed which performs simultaneous heating and cooling to dry and condition grain respectively[38]. Other use cases include chilling milk at dairy farms, chilling potatoes in cold stores and heating broiler sheds. In the latter, circulation pumps can remove excess heat from the sheds and return to the ground for future heat cycles. GSHPs make sense for farms due to land availability and once the plant has been installed pastureland can recover quickly. A common theme in literature indicates that heat pumps are most financially attractive where there is both a heating a cooling demand due to the heat recovery that exists between heating and cooling loads. Heat pumps offers carbon savings that are not possible via other technologies such as direct electrification since for one unit of electricity consumed by the heat pump, two to four units of heat are supplied[39]. While the case studies highlighted here focus mainly on GSHPs, air source heat pumps (ASHP) are also applicable in an agricultural context.

Hydropower

Hydropower, or hydroelectric power, generates electricity using large volumes of fresh water through the alteration of river watercourses and storage in reservoirs and lochs. It is the controlled release of water through turbines that converts flowing water into electrical energy (MacLeod et al., 2006). Part of this technology includes micro-hydropower systems. These are small to medium sized installations which make use of rivers and fast flowing streams. Installations such as these are more site-specific (from farm to farm or community to community) and can be prone to seasonal variation, for example flooding and drying (Sample et al., 2015).

Hydropower forms an important part of Scotland’s renewable energy supply. As of 2022, the total output was estimated to be 4,866 GWh, accounting for a total of 14% of all renewable energy output in Scotland, with further installations currently under consideration[40]. Existing hydropower sites in Scotland are categorised as either “run-of-river” (RoR) sites and require little to no water storage infrastructure, alternatively “impoundment” schemes involve the construction of large dams.

Hydropower is the second largest onshore renewable technology in terms of capacity and electricity energy generation despite the substantial growth and development of other technologies in recent years[41]. There is potential for new, large-scale hydro with a total of 19MW currently in the pipeline[42]. In terms of Scotland’s agriculture sector, there is further potential for the development of micro-hydropower installations. Micro-hydropower plants are dispersed throughout Scotland as part of on-farm renewable energy projects. Examples of this include: a 20kW hydro system installed in Dumfries and Galloway to power various farm buildings, one of three hydro schemes currently on the farm; and a 190kW system implemented on a 566.5-acre sheep (and fish) farm[43], [44].

Additional considerations for this technology include the effects of seasonal change as well as climate change and the potential increase in competition for future water resources. Increased demand for irrigation in agriculture during the dry summer months may result in reduced energy generation. Meanwhile, further intensification of the hydrological cycle due to climate change leads to a change in both size and seasonality of water flows (Sample et al., 2015).

Hydrogen

There is little literature discussing the role of hydrogen to decarbonise agriculture in Scotland. Scotland has committed to the ambition of at least 5GW installed renewable and low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 and 25GW by 2045 via the Hydrogen Action Plan[45]. The Plan further denotes that hydrogen has a role to play in rural and island communities as well as in cities and industrial clusters. Hydrogen is most likely to be used in sectors where there are few other decarbonisation options; most notably in heavy duty transport or non-road mobile machinery (NRMM), as well as high temperature process industries. In agriculture, there will be vehicles that may benefit from either hydrogen combustion propulsion because they are too big to electrify (such as combine harvesters), or, hydrogen can be used with fuel cells and act as range extenders to provide an extra boost to EVs during times such as harvest.

Farms in Scotland that have on-site renewable power generation assets such as wind or solar that experience high levels of curtailment could be in a position to produce hydrogen on-site and either use the hydrogen on-site or export to a third party such as an HGV fleet. At present, there are no examples of this in Scotland, though the HydroGlen project is conducting a feasibility study into green hydrogen for transport applications in an agricultural setting[46].

Potential benefits from an emerging second-hand market in renewables

The literature review found little information on the current potential to benefit from an emerging second hand market in renewables and related components. It is evident that there is an existing second-hand market for refurnished/remanufactured wind turbines and parts for wind and solar in Scotland which provides an opportunity for farmers to uptake these technologies at a lower cost. The search found a number of commercial companies are acting in this area and can help with the entire process, from early project development and feasibility studies, through to installation, grid connection, commissioning, through to operation and maintenance. However, there may be limitations on the reach of these companies, it is informally reported that access to individuals with the skills to support maintenance can be a significant barrier for farmers in Scotland. The skills gap if addressed may also provide a local employment opportunity.

Land use implications for low carbon energy production

The REA identified several topics regarding land use where differing views are presented and subject to active debate.

Competing demands for land

In Scotland (and globally), there are concerns regarding competing demands for land in the name of food or energy security[47]. This discussion has gained traction in recent years. Namely, the energy and agricultural regimes compete for use of agricultural land, both functionally (food vs. fuel) and in terms of control (farmer vs. corporations). This debate is typically centred around bioenergy crop production, but also includes the installation of solar panels, large wind turbines, processing plants, or any large installation that may take agricultural land out of production.

Scotland has the potential for bioenergy to produce approximately 13 TWh per year[48], which could make a notable contribution to Scotland’s renewable energy needs and targets. Some (3 TWh per annum by 2045) of this contribution is assumed to come from short rotation coppice (SRC) energy crops, such as willow. While SRC energy crops may aid in meeting short‐term needs over the transition towards low carbon energy supply there is debate over whether using land for bioenergy demand is appropriate when the same land can be used for food production[49]. It should be noted that energy crops may not need to be grown on the most productive land. There is also a debate as to whether land that cannot be used for agriculture, such as severely degraded or and marginal lands may be more appropriate for solar PV farms, for example (Child et al., 2019).

Changing land uses from food production to fuel production in Scotland will have direct impacts on biodiversity, wildlife, and landscape connectivity – either positive or negative. It is important to have the appropriate bioenergy crops in the right place to support the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems and preventing unnecessary ecosystem damage[50]. The type of land use change will affect the severity and extent of impacts. Aside from these more visible impacts, there are impacts related to opportunity costs for the agricultural sector itself, and from ecosystem services and carbon sequestration. There are significant opportunity costs from taking agriculturally productive land out of production for the use of renewable energy installations or bioenergy crop production.

Competing demands for land extend beyond fuel production. While out of scope of this report, it is important to consider other demands for land in Scotland that will continue to impact both food and fuel production alike – simultaneously or individually. These may include:

  • Housing and urban developments.
  • Forestry areas to meet Scotland’s afforestation targets.
  • Peatland areas protected for carbon sequestration potential and/or private upland areas under moorland management; and
  • Protected areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty and heritage.

Farm location and electricity distribution network accessibility

A study exploring the possibilities for farmers in Wales to diversify into sustainable energy found that an isolated farm location poses a threat to the viability of a farm to generate income from renewables. In addition to this, niche farm locations, such as farms located in national parks or scenic areas, can be accompanied with planning restrictions and regulations which hinders the viability and accessibility of introducing renewable energy technology on farm as technological developments are less likely to be granted (McKenna et al., 2022). Electricity distribution network capacity and accessibility has the potential to limit the farmers ability to export to the network. This was reiterated by a respondent in the study who confirmed there was “stiff opposition to wind turbines and solar panels and the connection to the grid was insufficient” (Morris and Bowen 2020).

A study researching the status of the energy systems of Scottish islands found that across all islands there is a restriction to connecting additional renewable generation and a recognition that supply and demand of power is crucial. Due to the remote locations these islands are often at the end of the network, therefore considerable investment if required to increase export capacity. To manage this, the need for any additional energy supply, must be justified with evidence of additional demand. This reduces the feasibility of technology in the remote areas of Scotland including the islands.[51] However, the situation is improving, Shetland will have a new transmission connection live in 2024 and Orkney and the Western Isles have had their new connection approved.

In the ‘Renewable energy in Scotland Fourth Report of Session 2021-22’ report, the Head of System Planning, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks noted: “until we get a certain level of certainty about projects going ahead, we are not able to make a robust investment case in the electricity distribution network”. Whereas, Chief Executive Officer, EDF Renewables commented that there should be better preparation for investment in the electricity distribution network: “More can be done to anticipate the investment needed to support renewable projects”. The seriousness of electricity distribution network accessibility was highlighted when the Scottish Affairs Committee called for OFGEM to consider the long-term impacts on net zero targets by completing a review of the grid in Scotland as a matter of urgency and to prioritise reinforcement of the grid where there is potential for a high renewable energy yield.[52]

In response to the recent changes in power generation and with an increasing number of more small-scale producers generating their own power, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) introduced the Access and Forward-Looking Charges Significant Code Review (Access SCR) in 2018.[53]

The Access SCR aims to promote the efficient and flexible use of the electricity network meeting both the users’ needs and allowing new, low carbon technologies to benefit consumers while also avoiding unnecessary high energy costs. The SCR primarily sets out how different parties access the grid network as well as the related costs involved.

In 2023 a final decision was published providing changes that reduce upfront costs for producers when connecting to the distribution network, strengthening existing protections for energy consumers while also enhancing the choice of “access rights” each customer has to the network. Such reforms will make future grid connections more accessible and feasible for energy generators, which includes farmers.

Tenure

Tenure directly impacts on the feasibility of introducing non-carbon technology on farm. It is an important factor in farm diversification as any restrictions set out in land/tenancy agreements will limit possibilities. In addition to this, long term investments are not deemed feasible for short term tenancies (Sutherland et al., 2016). Similarly, issues relating to crofting law and developments on crofting land poses as an accessibility issue for crofters. Statutory provisions can be complex and, in terms of developing renewable projects, more work may be required to comply with crofting legislation[54].

Land availability

Land availability will impact the viability of Scotland being able to decarbonise the agricultural sector. Renewable energy projects tend to require large amounts of space to sufficiently capture enough energy to be viable (Bergmann et al., 2006). Moreover, the viability of introducing technology on farm must consider land availability and suitability. Shepherd et al., 2021 found an initial 4.38M ha of land was available in Scotland for onshore wind turbine. This 4.38M ha refers to area which has been identified as well suited for development as it is already well provisioned with high voltage power infrastructure and, in general, encompasses Scotland’s existing turbine sites. However, when land suitability (e.g., ‘arable and horticulture’ and ‘rough grassland’) and soil types were considered the available area reduced from 4.38 million ha to 3.83 million ha.

Other barriers identified in the literature

Cost and investment

Whilst investing in renewable energy is well known to reduce operating costs on farm (Morris and Bowen 2020), the initial cost of the investment required for some technologies can be a barrier to uptake. This barrier extends to other forms of low carbon technology such as RAS (robotics & autonomous systems) as UK and Scottish studies, state that RAS is accompanied with high investment costs which are likely to be prohibitive to smaller farms (Herr et al., 2020 ; Reid and Wainwright., 2018).

Although renewable energy has been produced on farms for a long time, economics are still considered an issue (Spackman, P., 2016). Financial consideration must be given beyond the initial investment of technology, for example farmers may be subject to building, infrastructure, planning and consultancy costs as well as labour, maintenance, and other recurring costs. (MacLeod at al., 2016). Nonetheless, in a case study looking at a biomass grain dryer, a Scottish farmer stated, “We’re saving 6p/kWh, getting RHI payments amounting to almost £8,500 a year and expect a payback in two to three years.”[55] This positive financial outlook is reiterated by papers such as Rahman et al., 2022 who details, whilst still high, the cost of wind turbines are reducing as well as articles stating technology, such as solar panels, are continuing to fall in price in Scotland[56]. Nevertheless, costs remain an issue in terms of accessibility and viability as uptake of technology is negatively affected by high capital costs and/or lack of financial capital to cover long term investments and high financial risk (Acosta-Silva et al., 2019; Baker et al., 2022; Morris and Bowen., 2020).

Availability of cash to invest upfront is essential to establish new renewable and bioenergy projects. As the RHI ended in the spring of 2022, options to displace current energy costs are critical as without this, margins can be unattractive for investing. There is currently much uncertainty for farmers as withdrawal from the European Union, will mean a change in agricultural policy and support structures. This uncertainty may result in a reluctance to make investments at the current time, though equally there may be others who see renewable energy as a diversification opportunity giving longer term income benefits[57].

Public perception

Public perception towards the introduction of renewable energy on farm is a currently under debate. Some of the key drivers for introducing circular economy into the agri-food supply chain include environmental benefits (67%), policy and economy[58] (47%) and financial and economic benefits (43%) (Mehmood et al., 2021).

It is recognised throughout literature that introducing renewable energy on farm improves many aspects; the business’s carbon footprint, self-sufficiency, financial savings, sales of generated power and enhances socio technical values such as brand image (Jones et al., 2020; Spackman, 2014; Yousefzadeh et al., 2023) all of which drives a positive public opinion.

Many studies investigate the drivers and barriers influencing farmers’ adoption of renewable energy technologies. Studies found that younger farmers, and farmers that had progressed further in education had a more positive outlook on renewable energy and are therefore more likely to adopt these technologies (Ge et al., 2017). Nonetheless, some farmers have expressed a negative identity-based paradigm, considering the change of land use away from crop production to incorporate renewable energy e.g., solar panels to no longer being farming (Moore et al., 2022).

Public opinion varies and can negatively impact upon uptake of non-carbon technology on farm. Research shows that the most supported renewable energy source is solar, whilst, onshore wind farms are favoured by a smaller majority than most other forms of renewable energy.[59] Concerns regarding wind power largely focus on the visual impact on a landscape, production of ‘unwanted’ noise (Rahman et al., 2022) and environmental impact in terms of land use change and degradation of peatland for turbine and road access construction (Shepherd, A. et al., 2021). Moreover, in the 2010s, whilst there was an increase in planning permission applications to introduce wind turbines in Aberdeenshire, it was public concern that led to a high proportion of these turbine applications being rejected. (Sutherland et al., 2015).

Complex renewable technology such as technology related to biomass has been found to be associated with uncertainty, whereas negative public opinion relating to other technologies such as solar focused on cost and feasibility (Demski, 2011). On the positive side, research shows that those living in the Highlands and Islands and those living in closer proximity to renewable energy installations have a more favourable attitude towards these developments.

On farm renewable potential to meet energy needs

Within Scotland, there is great potential for farm businesses increase uptake of low carbon technologies. This section provides analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of these technologies, factors supporting or hindering uptake, and a discussion on how excess renewable energy production on farm can be marketed to other sectors in Scotland.

SWOT analysis of on farm energy generation

The SWOT analysis assessed the current potential for on-farm energy generation in Scotland, looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to provide a simplified picture and more clarity of where action is needed. These technologies are applicable across different agricultural sectors and contexts, although some are more suited to specific sectoral needs and requirements. For example, hydrogen currently has explicit uses; being a nascent technology for farming, its current strengths are contained to levels of innovation and specific applicability within the sector. There are extended SWOT tables of individual technologies with further detail in Appendix C. The SWOT tables below are grouped according to the following categorisations:

  • Solar PV, onshore wind, and hydropower are energy generation opportunities on farm, which support current and future energy demand, and provide alternative income streams;
  • Electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps provide alternatives to fossil fuels via electrification;
  • Hydrogen is a future fuel as it is a nascent technology for farming with specific applications; and
  • Bioenergy covers multiple different solutions, from biomethane to wood chip; these all have specific land use implications.

The SWOT analysis shows the interactions between the technologies identified here. A weakness seen in most technologies was the high capital expenditure (CAPEX), despite many having low operating expenditure (OPEX). Farmers may struggle to pay for high initial investment costs without support, and the land use or landscape implications of certain technologies is often a dissuading factor. However, government support schemes provide an opportunity to promote uptake across the sector.

There was little evidence to show that specific technologies did not have a role, although hydropower has less potential to others due to its significant impact on land, rivers, and aquatic ecology as well as location requirements, so its application is very context specific.

There are numerous opportunities to expanding on existing technologies with novel applications, such as hydrogen powered vehicles, and hybrid wind-solar systems to enhance reliability.

Table 7: SWOT table covering the themes presented across solar PV, onshore wind, and hydropower generation technologies as alternative electricity sources. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are applicable to all technologies noted in the table heading, unless stated otherwise.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Low running costs, cost-effective
  • Low maintenance once installed (solar)
  • Depending on the size, there can be a low land footprint required.
  • Protect crops from excessive heat in greenhouses (GHs) (solar)
  • More energy efficient for specific agricultural uses (e.g., in grain drying, GHs)
  • Multi-purpose and applicable to a wide range of needs on farm, especially small-scale installations.
  • Suitable for off-grid networks
  • Reduces emissions compared to fossil fuels.
  • Enhanced reliability of energy provision comes from hybrid systems using multiple low-carbon technologies in combination.
  • Generally, relatively easy to install (solar)
    • Most systems are flexible for a range of uses and are scalable.
    • Established solar PV supply chain already.
    • Solar panels in fields can provide shade for small livestock (e.g., sheep & goats), improving animal welfare.
    • Long term investment with a long lifespan
    • Established supply chain.
    • APV increase land value and productivity
  • High initial capital costs
  • Seasonal and annual climatic and environmental changes can affect potential output and cause fluctuations in energy generation.
  • Reduced agricultural outputs by taking land out of production.
  • Training needed to upskill for repairs and maintenance of installations.
  • Potential threat to wildlife and local ecology, especially during installation but also potentially during operation
  • Highly visible
  • Installations situated in upland peatland areas damage peat during construction, and tracks over moorland damage flora.
  • Depending on the unit size there are differences in suitability for location. Altitude, latitude, and aspect are important to consider.
  • There can be opportunity costs from taking agriculturally productive land out of production for the use of these installations (the loss of income from agricultural production where installations reduction opportunity for this by taking up space).

Opportunities

Threats

  • Long term income stream from electricity distribution network exports. Helps to manage costs, reduces imports and reduces risk of fluctuating costs.
  • High potential in the specific sectors (e.g., solar for poultry, wind for dairy)
  • Opportunity for marginal land to be used.
  • Lack of planning issues for smaller scale installations creates enabling environment for potential uptake.
  • Opportunity for pastoral farming (mainly grazing) to happen in the same area as the installation.
  • Opportunity for low-cost batteries charging for small agricultural applications on site, such as those for pumping, electric fencing, lighting, small electronic systems.
  • Ideal for off-grid locations (wind, hydro)
  • Existing second-hand market for parts (solar, wind) in Scotland provides room for low-cost uptake.
  • Potential for knowledge sharing and adapting successful projects to local purposes provides a resource with significant potential.
  • There is considerable scope in Scotland for the development of further small-to-medium sized installations.
  • Can offer opportunities for diversification and employment in rural communities
  • Future climatic and environmental changes may threaten the opportunity for uptake, as energy generation could be affected.
  • Electricity distribution network access is an issue, especially for larger commercial projects. There is a high cost of making efficient connections to the existing electricity distribution network.
  • Social acceptance
  • Land ownership and length of tenure can impact uptake.
  • There is a need for permitting or licensing through local authority planning which can affect uptake.
  • Scotland has many zones of natural heritage and designated sites, which can affect planning permission acceptance.
  • Negative public opinion of installations due to visibility
  • UK government policy and support is inconsistent, which makes investment a risk.
  • Compliance with crofting legislation – projects on croft land or common grazing require further action and planning considerations.
  • It is difficult to find someone to maintain second hand market parts and insurance is not always available for second hand installations However, this could present an opportunity for upskilling.

Table 8: SWOT table covering the themes presented across heat pump and electric vehicle (EV) technologies as alternative electricity users.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Multi-use and multifunctional – can be used for a range of different uses on farm.
  • High energy efficiency
  • Enables the use of energy produced on farm.
  • Heat pumps and EVs can replace fossil fuel use (oil and gas) for a range of needs.
  • Reduce noise and air pollution compared to conventional technologies.
  • Electric motors and heat pumps are both up to three times as efficient (compared to traditional combustion engines or gas boilers, respectively)
  • The four-wheel drive capability and higher torque at low speeds that are inherent in electric vehicles are ideal for use in rough terrain (EVs)
  • Initial capital costs are high but can be more financially attractive where cooling and heating demands are present.
  • The supply chain for installation and maintenance is still developing.
  • Depending on the relative price of gas and electricity, sites may have increased running costs when switching to a heat pump from fossil fuel heating plant.
  • In the context of agriculture, heat pump systems will be larger and more specific than domestic settings, therefore maintenance costs can be high.
  • Inability to currently support all necessary farming activities.
  • Sites may require an electricity network capacity upgrade (heat pumps) or charging infrastructure (EVs)
  • This may also lead to trade-offs including longer working days for farmers, reduced total field time, or having to recharge multiple times a day (EVs)

Opportunities

Threats

  • For sites with renewable power generation, heat pumps and EVs can utilise this to reduce operating costs and carbon footprint.
  • There are many relevant applications in agriculture for these technologies.
  • Good opportunities for use in specific agriculture sectors (e.g., heat pumps for dairy, EVs for graziers or arable farming)
  • High Temperature Heat Pumps (HTHPs) are beginning to become available.

 

  • Payback period depends on relative gas/oil and electricity prices.
  • Most heat pumps provide temperatures of up to 50-60°C therefore for space heating application for domestic applications, user needs well insulated property or must increase radiator area for greatest efficiency. Similarly, EVs battery performance is significantly impacted by cooler operating temperatures.

Table 9: Analysis of hydrogen energy generation and use in agriculture. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are applicable to all technologies noted in the table heading, unless stated otherwise in the table.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Hydrogen is a non-toxic fuel.
  • Hydrogen vehicles does not require long charging durations, unlike EVs.
  • A hydrogen internal combustion engine will not be much more expensive than diesel versions equivalent by 2030.
  • Maintenance and longevity: for hybrid systems, diesel particulate filters will need to be replaced less frequently on modern tractors and oil change hours can also be extended.
  • Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier and storage medium.
  • Green hydrogen can be produced during off-peak periods or times when there is excess renewable electricity, instead of curtailing the excess energy.
  • Hydrogen can be stored for a long time.
  • There is currently no established supply chain.
  • The high energy requirement of hydrogen production
  • Challenges arise in trying to store and contain it, as hydrogen can leak out of ordinary metal storage containers.
  • High cost/initial investment, particularly in terms of agriculture which is a highly distributed sector where demand for hydrogen is low compared to other sectors.
  • Green hydrogen is currently challenging to obtain and expensive, with costs that will be passed to the farmer.
  • Storage issues – as a highly-combustible fuel, hydrogen could be dangerous when storing on site, and there are requirements for storage and use under UK-wide Health and Safety Executive guidelines.
  • Low volumetric energy density

Opportunities

Threats

  • Hydrogen powered machinery offers similar performance as current internal combustion engine (ICE) mobile machinery.
  • There is an opportunity for cost-effective energy-production processes where agricultural wastes and various other biomasses can be recycled to produce hydrogen economically.
  • Can be used in farm machinery to replace ICEs and cut emissions, without the complications that come with heavy EV batteries.
  • Mechanically, the technology for running hydrogen vehicles and machinery already exists.
  • As a growing proportion of Scotland’s energy production comes from renewable sources located in rural areas, there is the potential for partially decentralised hydrogen production to provide fuel to the agricultural sector.
  • Hydrogen and renewable hybrid systems on farm have the potential to create local renewable energy communities, providing energy to surrounding buildings.
  • There are already capital incentives for hydrogen, such as the UK Government’s Net Zero Hydrogen Fund[60] and up to 100m for renewable hydrogen from the Scottish Government‘s Emerging Energy Technologies Fund, as set out in the Scottish Hydrogen Action Plan and Route Map to 2030 and 2045[61]
  • The major problem in utilization of hydrogen gas as a fuel is its unavailability in nature and the need for inexpensive production, storage and transportation methods.
  • Infrastructure in the UK is still lacking.
  • Hydrogen in a rural context is a nascent area and new developments and innovations are expected, but currently the evidence base for applications of hydrogen are limited to pilot projects which could scale, such as HydroGlen at Glensaugh Farm, which is run by the James Hutton Institute and received Scottish Government funding[62].
  • NOx emissions are still present from combustion but can be managed to low levels via lean combustion or flue gas recycling.
  • Profit margins are fine in the agricultural sector and red diesel (untaxed) is currently cheaper than hydrogen.

Table 10: Analysis of bioenergy generation and use in agriculture.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Various types of bioenergy can be used to replace fossil fuels.

Solid Biomass

  • Well-developed technology
  • Woody biomass (e.g., Short Rotation Coppice) contributes greater soil carbon sequestration during growth in comparison to cultivated crops in the same area.
  • Benefits of SRC, miscanthus & forestry – reduced erosion and improved flood reduction
  • Marginal land can be used for SRC.

AD/Biogas/Biomethane

  • Makes use of raw materials and by-products straight from the farm/onsite, manages waste from livestock farming, helping reduce the need for storage, maintain environmental safety, reduces GHG emissions and stimulating the development of local economies.
  • Waste to biogas using AD is considered most environmentally friendly due to minimum carbon leakage and positive waste resource recycling impact.
  • Safe treatment and disposal of agricultural waste
  • By-product from AD is digestate which can be re-applied to soils as an organic fertiliser.
  • Use of slurry for AD reduces methane emissions that would arrive from slurry storage.

Liquid biofuels e.g., biodiesel and bioethanol

  • Ethanol has a competitive price in the market.
  • Non-toxic, biodegradable, free of sulphur
  • Works in any diesel engine with few or no modifications
  • Biodiesel provides mobile machinery users with an alternative fuel that will allow ‘business as usual’ operation. Each engine model will have stipulations for the maximum percentage of liquid biofuels that can used without modification to the engine. Some engines can operate on 100% liquid biofuels by volume.

Solid Biomass

  • High maintenance (OPEX) of biomass boilers, especially in comparison to other options, and high CAPEX.
  • High competition in the wood fuel market
  • Forestry biomass can be of unreliable quality and supply is not always guaranteed.
  • Air quality can be a concern for farms nearby urban areas.

AD/Biogas/Biomethane

  • Gate fees remain a significant deterrent for farmers (who can spread untreated livestock waste for free)
  • High initial investment
  • Upgrading of biogas (50–65% CH4) to biomethane (>90% CH4) is costly and energy demanding.
  • AD will often not be suitable for small-scale farms.
  • Lignocellulosic rich waste streams require pre-treatment before AD to improve methane yield.

Liquid biofuels e.g., biodiesel and bioethanol

  • Dedicated land for growing crops for biofuels competes with human/animal feed production.
  • Current production of perennial energy crops in Scotland is limited.
  • Some suboptimal use – use for financial incentive but not always the best technology for specific uses. Previous incentive schemes encourage uptake.
  • Producing biofuels is not energy-efficient (Biofuel)
  • GHG reduction is modest compared to other measures (Biofuel)
  • High costs and complexity of the logistics and supply chain management
  • Securing feedstock can be challenging (AD)
  • Lack of suitability of technologies to some buildings (e.g., Biomass boiler)
  • Biodiesel is water intolerant and thickens at temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius, therefore, shelf life is limited and is more complex to store than fossil diesel.
  • Few commercially available biomass CHP systems available on the market other than those based on anaerobic digestion (biomass CHP)

Opportunities

Threats

Solid Biomass

  • The use of forest and agricultural residues does not compete with crop production.
  • Pyrolysis and gasification of solid biomass produces a by-product known as biochar which can be used as a soil improver, animal feed supplement and for water treatment.
  • Ash from combustion can be used as a fertiliser.

AD/Biogas/Biomethane

  • Biogas can be used like natural gas to directly heat facilities on site and produce electricity via Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
  • Cellulosic feedstocks grow well on marginal lands (cellulosic biomass crop) (biofuel)
  • Biogas and electricity production is feasible for all types of dairy farms.
  • Price support in the past has led to exponential increases in uptake; future price support schemes could do the same (Biogas)
  • There are opportunities for local AD plants and agricultural waste biomass plants on islands in Scotland, reducing the communities’ carbon footprint due to removing the need to ship waste to the Shetland Island for disposal (case study)
  • Supply of bioresources is often not sustainable – stringent sustainability criterion needs to be imposed.
  • Uncertain farm-scale profitability of biogas
  • Taking fields out of food production (biogas, biofuel, and biomass) creates conflict between food and fuel production. However, the RTFO[63] has a ‘crop-cap’ to mediate this.
  • Changing energy policy complicates the financial appraisal of AD projects.
  • Agricultural reuse of AD as potential renewable fertiliser can pose some hygienic and environmental hazards, and storage issues (there is a limitation of land disposal imposed by the Nitrates Council Directive)
  • AD plants which use distillery co-products, such as draff, pot ale and dark drains, as a feedstock have constrained supply and increased their prices. This had had a knock-on effect for farmers who purchase these products as animal feed.
  • If there were to be widespread adoption of biomethane as an alternative fuel for agricultural mobile machinery in Scotland, there would likely be large pressures on biomethane production and availability.
  • Concerns with the effects of potential ‘methane slips’ in biomethane machinery

PESTLE analysis of potential to decarbonise on farm energy use.

Renewable energy technologies are subject to a range of enabling and preventative factors. A political, economic, social, technical, legal and environmental (PESTLE) analysis was therefore undertaken to assess the potential to support on-farm renewable energy generation and the decarbonisation of agricultural energy use in Scotland. This assessment was produced following the SWOT analysis to incorporate the strengths and opportunities of each renewable energy technology (and more generally) identified in the SWOT.

Table 11: Political analysis of enabling and preventative factors for on-farm low-carbon energy generation and agricultural energy use decarbonisation

Enabling factors

Preventative factors

  • Government policy (especially in the past) that incentivise renewable energy uptake in Scotland can bring down costs and increase uptake.
  • Government policy levers that are pushing businesses, including farm businesses, to decarbonise, either directly or by driving businesses such as supermarkets to pass on obligations to farms.
  • The Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) programme supports communities to engage with and benefit from the energy transition to net zero emissions. Local communities can access funding to install renewable technologies.
  • Smart Export Guarantee scheme and others provide investment in small-scale renewable projects up to 5MW capacity.
  • Political will for decarbonisation (e.g., 2045 net zero targets for Scottish Agriculture)
  • Conflicting policies and targets can impact uptake (e.g., afforestation targets can indirectly divert water away from hydropower installations)
  • Lack of regulation over nascent technologies (e.g., hydrogen, robotics)

Table 12: Economic analysis of enabling and preventative factors for on-farm low-carbon energy generation and agricultural energy use decarbonisation

Enabling factors

Preventative factors

  • Energy price rises driving interest/change.
  • Market pressures to decarbonise – supermarket requirements driving change down the value chain.
  • A general desire to diversify farm income.
  • The agricultural sector with access to such large areas of land has lots of scope for potential uptake of renewable energy.
  • Larger scale installations can offer opportunities for employment in rural communities.
  • Capital grants or support schemes can help farmers shoulder on-farm costs and encourage uptake.
  • Purchase of equipment for collective use within communities
  • Economic viability of farmers: future uncertainty heightened by agricultural transition and highlighted changes in support payments since Brexit.
  • High initial capital expenditure requirements for most renewable technology installations.
  • Lack of access to (and awareness of) capital and grants and uncertainty in available capital to invest.
  • Farms and crofts are generally small businesses, and therefore there is a small margin of error for energy investments on farm.
  • Competition increasing land prices- bioenergy crops/corporate and private interest in land for carbon and nature-related offsetting /food security.
  • There is a conflict between agriculture and tourism businesses in islands and other rural areas, which can lower availability of specific renewable elements (e.g., biomass)

Table 13: Social analysis of enabling and preventative factors for on-farm low-carbon energy generation and agricultural energy use decarbonisation

Enabling factors

Preventative factors

  • Rural and local energy communities can work together to support and create micro-grids and install renewable technologies through community action and crowdfunding, enabling access to renewable energy in remote locations.
  • Strong peer-to-peer learning between farmers, knowledge sharing, and community support for education
  • Legacy on farm – longer term view to support future generations with more renewable energy generation (even in some tenancies)
  • Generally widespread public support for renewable energy installations
  • Grassroots, community led support to solve issues on farm (e.g., supplier or mechanic recommended between farming circles, developing trust)
  • The energy and agricultural regimes compete for use of agricultural land, both functionally (food vs. fuel) and in terms of control (farmer vs. corporations)
  • Issues around access to equity, especially for farmers in lower socio-economic bands
  • Potential at govt level to say that things are coming rather than farms fighting the battle – collective top-down support.
  • Contract/short term tenant farms less likely to be able to implement renewable technologies due to contract and communication difficulty with landlords.
  • Land ownership – corporations/wealthy people buying up land for carbon sequestration and ‘CSR’ purposes.
  • Competing land pressures in central Scotland – e.g., housing; other pressures
  • Changing uses of land not always in favour of tenant farmers
  • Some local objections to installations, such as biogas.

Table 14: Technical analysis of enabling and preventative factors for on-farm low-carbon energy generation and agricultural energy use decarbonisation

Enabling factors

Preventative factors

  • Many renewable energy technologies are already widely used across Scotland.
  • Established low carbon heat sources to displace fossil fuels.
  • Renewable electricity generation can reduce electricity costs and support electrification of polluting energy sources.
  • A range of low and zero emission transportation technologies are available (but not those for majority of agriculture uses).
  • Emerging vehicle types (hydrogen, electric) are more widely available. Applicability and impact not yet clear
  • Combining multiple technologies can unlock additional benefits, manage operating costs, and reduce impact on the grid.
  • Electrification of energy use often improves energy efficiency
  • Depending on the location within the electricity distribution network, access can be a problem, especially in rural and remote areas, where most farms are located.
  • Electricity network constraints means that there is a limit to scalability of renewable generation or electrification of energy use.
  • New or rapidly evolving technology (hydrogen, robotics) create an investment risk, due to deployment issues or a risk of obsolescence.
  • People are cautious based on experiences of ‘cowboy builders’ – those with no proper training or official qualifications that do work to a low standard.
  • On farms, technologies are often added one by one, so there is less opportunity to manage energy load. This can mean more grid impact initially than would be the case in long term.

Table 15: Legal analysis of enabling and preventative factors for on-farm low-carbon energy generation and agricultural energy use decarbonisation

Enabling factors

Preventative factors

  • Small scale installations and microgrids can benefit from permitted development rights where planning permission can be granted without the need for local planning authority applications (although a permitted development status still requires an application to be made)
  • Environmental permitting – driving change for reduction of emissions onsite.
  • While important for other reasons, planning requirements or restrictions in certain areas (e.g., designated sites, AONBs) can hamper the uptake of renewable technologies (especially wind turbines and solar panels).
  • Licenses for water abstraction (e.g., for hydropower) can hamper uptake.
  • Land ownership and tenancies can cause disputes over implementing renewable technology, leading to slow uptake.
  • General binding rules – restrictions on water use (e.g., AD)
  • Cleaner air for Scotland strategy – combustion technology (e.g., bioenergy) barrier
  • Inheritance tax considerations for changes in agricultural land use for some renewable energy production types.

Table 16: Environmental analysis of enabling and preventative factors for on-farm low-carbon energy generation and agricultural energy use decarbonisation

Enabling factors

Preventative factors

  • Changing climatic and environmental conditions due to climate change can positively affect the capacity renewable energy techs (e.g., increased sun exposure from hotter and drier summers)
  • Many farms have the resources (e.g., agricultural residue) or space (e.g., marginal land, existing barn and building roofs for solar panels) available to support biomass energy production and the installation of other technologies.
  • Positive environmental and biodiversity benefits from bioenergy crops in comparison to managed grasslands or arable crops (relative to the ecosystem)
  • There are competing land pressures in central Scotland (e.g., housing/ afforestation). Additionally, renewable energy projects normally require large amounts of space to capture the energy in wind, water, or solar radiation in sufficient quantity to be commercially viable.
  • Changing climatic and environmental conditions due to climate change can negatively affect the capacity renewable energy techs by increasing uncertainty in weather conditions.
  • There is a need to identify the negative environmental impacts when installing technologies (e.g., installing wind turbines on peat land)
  • Intensification of land for biomass production previously not used for cropping (e.g., land use change from grasslands to bioenergy crops)
  • Negative environmental and biodiversity implications from the growth of bioenergy crops (relative to the ecosystem)

Analysis of wider decarbonisation for the energy system

While the decarbonisation of energy generation can reduce carbon dioxide emissions on farm, there is great potential for agriculture-based energy generation to support the decarbonisation of the wider energy system in Scotland. Farms which generate renewable energy can use it to meet their own energy needs, displace fossil fuels, and reduce their costs and carbon footprint. Adding energy storage and new technologies to use the energy they generate gives farmers more control over energy costs and essentially forms an on-farm energy system. These energy systems can provide wider benefits such as:

  • Providing renewable energy to the electricity distribution network and reducing reliance on fossil fuels or on importing energy from elsewhere;
  • Reducing the need for electricity distribution network upgrades by generating, storing and using energy at farm level as opposed to relying on the electricity distribution network to supply it. This is particularly important for high power demands such as rapid charging of EVs, HGVs or mobile machinery.
  • Using these systems to meet some high-power energy demands such as EV charging for farm workers, suppliers or local communities. This would reduce the reliance on the electricity distribution network to meet these demands in rural areas and could reduce costs.
  • In the future, it would be technically feasible for agriculture sites with suitable systems and access to host EV charging for use by third parties, possibly including future charging of HGVs.

The benefits are particularly pronounced in areas where the electricity network is either highly constrained or for farms not connected to the electricity distribution network, such as some islands or remote communities where community access to energy relies on microgrids. The agriculture sector is a large part of the local economy, so widespread on farm uptake of low carbon energy systems could have a significant effect.

Electricity and gas grid exports

Farms which generate, store, and consume energy may be able to import and store energy at times of low demand or export energy at times of high consumption. There will be limitations on the capacity of individual network connections, and the potential benefit to distribution networks will vary. However, sites which generate, store, and consume electricity could have a role in balancing distribution networks by providing flexibility. The nature of renewable energy means that production is not always consistent with demand, especially for those technologies that rely on natural resources such as wind and solar energy. Onshore wind is the largest single provider of renewable electricity in Scotland, and Scotland maintains the largest proportion of onshore turbines in the UK, with 8.8GW of onshore wind capacity that accounts for over 60% of the UK’s total onshore wind capacity as of 2021[64]. Wind production in Scotland on farms, particularly in areas of high altitude and latitude, provides excellent opportunities to deliver excess energy to the electricity distribution network whilst also meeting on farm energy needs.

Additionally, in the UK, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) enables an additional income stream for farmers, while supporting electricity distribution network decarbonisation. If a farm has a solar PV system and generates more power than is required onsite, the surplus will be put onto the electricity distribution network. Under the SEG, electricity suppliers offer payment for each unit of power that is exported to the electricity distribution network. It should be noted that some energy vectors are easier to sell to the gas and electricity distribution network operator; solar electricity is noted as being easier to produce and sell to the electricity distribution network compared to biomethane to the gas grid as additional technology is required to upgrade the biogas to biomethane which must meet stringent quality and calorific value requirements which are imposed by the gas distribution network operator (Rikkonen et al., 2019). Obton (2021) notes that an area of 100-acre covered in solar panels can generate 40 MW of electricity, which is enough to provide power to 10,000 UK households.

Further, newer fuels such as hydrogen have the potential to contribute to electricity distribution network exports and support national demand. Through electrolysis, green hydrogen can be produced during off-peak periods or times when there is excess renewable electricity, instead of curtailing it as it is commonly done. An important consideration is the network connection, some parts of the grid are constrained, depending on the location, and it can be more difficult to get a grid connection in these places. This is exacerbated by the rural nature of some farms in Scotland. There may be potential opportunity for farmers to support wider electricity distribution network decarbonisation through generating and supplying hydrogen to local authorities, or companies running fleets of fuel-cell vehicles; however, this may not be a widespread phenomenon and depends on individual farm’s willingness to enter into such agreements. With electricity distribution network connection presenting a significant barrier for so many in rural areas, there may be other opportunities to sell energy to a neighbouring site by installing a private wire between two properties. There are regulations which need to be strictly complied with and the viability of this depends upon the individual sites.

Electricity distribution networks remain a critical component to enable energy ambitions in Scotland to be delivered. This is an issue that is specifically restrictive for farmers, crofters, and landowners in their role in the energy transition[65]. Heat map data published by the Distribution Network Operators on distribution network capacity shows that there are many areas in Scotland which are at or near their capacity limits meaning that new renewable installations looking to export their surplus energy will likely need to wait until network upgrades take place [66]. This can be between £2,000 and £65,000 or more, depending on the number of connections and connection type and energy requirements[67]. This further reduced accessibility to the electricity distribution network and can be a preventative factor for farmers. The Scottish Affairs Committee stated that electricity distribution network connection requires urgent review and investment to ensure net-zero targets can be met through renewable energy generation[68].

Bioenergy production

Bioenergy technologies have the potential to supply a low-carbon source of energy to the agriculture sector and more widely. For example, anaerobic digestion (AD) systems which produce biogas could be important to smart sustainable rural energy infrastructure. Farms could provide feedstocks such as crop residues or slurry and local industry could supply food waste. The biogas could be used on farms, to generate electricity or heat, or it could be upgraded to biomethane for use in the gas network or for fuel for farm vehicles or HGVs. In turn, the AD digestate by-product can be used as a fertiliser in crop production, supporting the Scottish Government’s mission to support a circular economy (Blades et al., 2017). Benefits of biogas:

  • Biogas can be used like natural gas to directly heat facilities on site and produce electricity via Combined Heat and Power (CHP). The electricity produced by CHP can be used on site or exported to the electricity distribution network (Auer et al., 2017). Alternatively, biogas can be further purified to biomethane and used to replace natural gas as a fuel for transportation vehicles.
  • Power generation from bioresources is less reliant on climatic conditions than wind turbines and solar PV. Consequently, the export of electricity produced (from biogas CHP) could be of more benefit to the electricity network than other renewable sources of electricity by continuing to generate electricity at times when other renewables are not producing (Sutherland et al., 2015).
  • In addition to harnessing the production of biogas generated from AD plants, or electricity from CHP, there are a stream of potential bioresources produced such as fertiliser, chemicals, gases, and bioplastics which may provide sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products, both in the agricultural sector and beyond (Reynolds et al., 2022).
  • Food processors, distilleries, and supermarkets can send their waste to AD plants as a feedstock and get recompensed in zero-carbon fuel to run HGVs. During the upgrading process from biogas to biomethane, it is possible to capture CO2 which can lead to the overall technology being deemed as a Negative Emission Technology (NET).
  • Biomethane for AD plants and CHP has lots of potential for specific agriculture sectors, such as dairy farms by using manures, slurries and food wastes or by-products such as whey.

While there is significant potential, the financial investment and space required mean that AD and biogas production is not usually suitable for small-scale farms, and this is an important limitation to be aware. In addition, injecting biomethane into the gas network is highly regulated by the network operator and requires a legal agreement; specialist equipment as well as a site with a suitable location.

Conclusions

The research identifies a wide range of low-carbon technologies available for use on farm. We have identified the strengths and weaknesses of each, and explored their suitability to different situations. Overall, the report identifies the range of technologies available to meet the diversity of on-farm needs for energy use, generation and energy efficiency as a strength for the sector. However, high investment costs coupled with a lack of access to capital are barriers to the uptake of on-site generation using alternative technologies. Poor electricity distribution network access is a barrier to exporting energy generated on site. Regarding costs, the current economic environment is especially challenging for farmers. Many will hesitate to make large investments, whilst dealing with the additional costs to their business caused by the cost of living crisis, and the volatility in both input costs and output values caused by global issues such as the war in Ukraine. In addition to this there is some uncertainty over how future agricultural payments will be structured beyond 2027. The PESTLE table provides more detail of the enabling and preventative factors that can impact uptake of low-carbon technologies on farm.

The baseline mapping for current energy use on farms and crofts in Scotland from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) shows that energy, gas and other fuel use varies greatly across regions in Scotland, depending on the predominant agricultural sector. Livestock sector energy emissions are concentrated to the southwest and north, and arable sector energy emissions are largely from the northeast. Beef is the agricultural sector with the highest overall energy emissions, producing over 100kt CO2e more than the dairy sector (the second largest). Spring barley was the crop with the highest energy emissions in the arable sector, producing more energy related emissions than some livestock sectors.

The mapping of the baseline emissions indicated that targeting processes that currently rely on other fuels would be the most effective way to reduce agricultural emissions. This may be through identifying opportunities to improve the efficiency of these operations or technologies that enable the electrification of processes that previously relied on fossil fuels. Decarbonisation will be further optimised if the electricity used is generated through renewables.

Furthermore, it is evident from the data that livestock ‘other energy’ emissions are a substantial contributor to the overall energy use emissions from agriculture in Scotland. Efforts to reduce this through efficiency measures or fuel switching will have a significant impact.

There were various limitations to the baseline energy emissions mapping, including a lack of data on the predominant fuel type by sector, a lack of publicly available data on current energy consumption, and a lack of detailed data on disaggregated sectors. To overcome these constraints, more detailed and up-to-date data needs to be gathered. This report has not sought to quantify the GHG reduction potential of decarbonising energy use on farm.

It is evident that farm bioenergy production has the potential to supply Scotland with a low-carbon source of energy for use across the country; however, the land use change required has wider implications on the environment, biodiversity and economics at the farm level and is a topic of debate amongst farmers and the wider public.

Looking to the future, there is a major opportunity for low-carbon electricity and gas generated on farms to be exported to the grid to support grid decarbonisation. To achieve this, there are significant issues regarding electricity distribution network access which need to be overcome.

In the correct enabling environment, it is evident that farms can play a significant role in supporting Scotland’s Net Zero targets and just transition and circular economy aims.

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Appendix / Appendices

Appendix A: Methodology to task 1

To establish a baseline of fuel use on Scottish farms and crofts, a literature review was undertaken to provide the typical energy consumed by various agricultural processes. These factors (below) have been applied to the livestock counts and crop areas reported in the agricultural census. This provided an initial indication of fuel use by sector across the agricultural regions.

Fuel consumption factors used.

Sector

Energy Input

Energy Consumption Value

Unit

Reference

Dairy

Electricity

910.0

kWh/cow

Warwick HRI, 2007

Dairy

Mobile Machinery (petroleum fuels)

548.7

kWh/cow

Baker et al, 2022

Beef

Mobile Machinery

453.1

kWh/cow

Baker et al, 2022

Sheep

Mobile Machinery

18.9

kWh/ewe

Baker et al, 2022

Poultry (Layers)

Electricity

10.3

kWh/bird

Scot Gov, 2021[69]

Poultry (Layers)

Other Static

1.7

kWh/bird

Scot Gov, 2021

Poultry (Broilers)

Electricity

0.7

kWh/bird

Warwick HRI, 2007

Poultry (Broilers)

Other Static

1.1

kWh/bird

Warwick HRI, 2007

Pig (Female breeder)

Electricity

1,402.0

kWh/sow

Warwick HRI, 2007

Pig (Female breeder)

Other Static

155.0

kWh/sow

Warwick HRI, 2007

Cereals (wheat)

Electricity

621.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Cereals (wheat)

Other Static

203.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Cereals (wheat)

Mobile Machinery

1,078.0

kWh/ha

Baker et al, 2022

Cereals (winter barley)

Electricity

449.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Cereals (winter barley)

Other Static

146.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Cereals (winter barley)

Mobile Machinery

942.0

kWh/ha

Baker et al, 2022

Cereals (spring Barley)

Electricity

449.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Cereals (spring Barley)

Other Static

146.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Cereals (spring Barley)

Mobile Machinery

942.0

kWh/ha

Baker et al, 2022

Oilseed and linseed

Mobile Machinery

1,074.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Peas and beans for combining

Mobile Machinery

1,074.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Orchard and soft fruit

Mobile Machinery

300.0

kWh/ha

Baker et al, 2022

Potatoes

Electricity

4,208.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Potatoes

Other Static

85.0

kWh/ha

Warwick HRI, 2007

Potatoes

Mobile Machinery

3,230.0

kWh/ha

Baker et al, 2022

The fuel use calculated was not used directly, but rather served as the basis to disaggregate the local authority greenhouse gas statistics[70] (aggregated to agricultural region) into the categories provided in the census (e.g., pigs, potatoes) as this level of detail is not available in the published local authority greenhouse gas data.

Before the sectoral breakdown could be applied, the GHG statistics were split into urban and rural aspects, with the sectoral split only applied to rural areas. This was necessary as within the NAEI and the LA GHG data, some emissions (including agricultural) are distributed based on employment totals. Full details of how employment statistics are used as to estimate fuel use can be found in DESNZ, 2023[71].

Using urban boundaries[72], it was possible to calculate the percentage of these emissions which occurred in a rural area and were therefore more likely to be related to actual agricultural practices. This removed the possibility of counting emissions that may be associated with e.g., a farm shop in a city centre.

Fuel consumption per sector within each agriculture region

The table below shows the fuel consumption used to disaggregate the local authority greenhouse gas rural energy use emissions.

Sector

Agriculture Region

Electricity (MWh/year)

Gas (MWh/year)

Mobile Machinery (MWh/year)

Other Static (MWh/year)

Barley spring

Argyll and Bute

659.36

0.00

1383.33

214.40

Barley spring

Ayrshire

2073.75

0.00

4350.72

674.32

Barley spring

Clyde Valley

2021.44

0.00

4240.98

657.31

Barley spring

Dumfries and Galloway

3339.84

0.00

7006.97

1086.01

Barley spring

East Central

2602.45

0.00

5459.93

846.23

Barley spring

Fife

7153.96

0.00

15008.98

2326.23

Barley spring

Grampian

48489.84

0.00

101731.48

15767.30

Barley spring

Highland

9991.19

0.00

20961.48

3248.81

Barley spring

Lothian

5381.58

0.00

11290.53

1749.91

Barley spring

Na h-Eileanan Siar

    

Barley spring

Orkney

1682.72

0.00

3530.33

547.16

Barley spring

Scotland

111765.53

0.00

234483.58

36342.47

Barley spring

Scottish Borders

7339.22

0.00

15397.65

2386.47

Barley spring

Shetland

    

Barley spring

Tayside

20999.86

0.00

44057.62

6828.46

Barley winter

Argyll and Bute

48.13

0.00

100.98

15.65

Barley winter

Ayrshire

511.10

0.00

1072.28

166.19

Barley winter

Clyde Valley

480.97

0.00

1009.07

156.40

Barley winter

Dumfries and Galloway

1508.73

0.00

3165.31

490.59

Barley winter

East Central

379.63

0.00

796.46

123.44

Barley winter

Fife

1574.33

0.00

3302.93

511.92

Barley winter

Grampian

7149.83

0.00

15000.31

2324.89

Barley winter

Highland

437.01

0.00

916.85

142.10

Barley winter

Lothian

1861.73

0.00

3905.91

605.37

Barley winter

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Barley winter

Orkney

13.02

0.00

27.32

4.23

Barley winter

Scotland

19417.59

0.00

40738.01

6313.96

Barley winter

Scottish Borders

2930.62

0.00

6148.43

952.94

Barley winter

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Barley winter

Tayside

2522.57

0.00

5292.34

820.26

Beef

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

14160.28

0.00

Beef

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

31764.12

0.00

Beef

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

27276.62

0.00

Beef

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

75607.44

0.00

Beef

East Central

0.00

0.00

11258.18

0.00

Beef

Fife

0.00

0.00

13972.24

0.00

Beef

Grampian

0.00

0.00

107399.65

0.00

Beef

Highland

0.00

0.00

34304.65

0.00

Beef

Lothian

0.00

0.00

13264.96

0.00

Beef

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

1732.20

0.00

Beef

Orkney

0.00

0.00

22196.01

0.00

Beef

Scotland

0.00

0.00

420266.56

0.00

Beef

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

37926.74

0.00

Beef

Shetland

0.00

0.00

1262.79

0.00

Beef

Tayside

0.00

0.00

28140.68

0.00

Dairy

Argyll and Bute

7790.51

0.00

4697.42

0.00

Dairy

Ayrshire

49305.62

0.00

29729.66

0.00

Dairy

Clyde Valley

25656.54

0.00

15470.05

0.00

Dairy

Dumfries and Galloway

112211.19

0.00

67659.65

0.00

Dairy

East Central

9025.38

0.00

5442.01

0.00

Dairy

Fife

5592.86

0.00

3372.31

0.00

Dairy

Grampian

6191.64

0.00

3733.35

0.00

Dairy

Highland

2851.03

0.00

1719.08

0.00

Dairy

Lothian

3103.10

0.00

1871.07

0.00

Dairy

Na h-Eileanan Siar

19.11

0.00

11.52

0.00

Dairy

Orkney

2334.15

0.00

1407.42

0.00

Dairy

Scotland

235684.54

0.00

142110.01

0.00

Dairy

Scottish Borders

7421.05

0.00

4474.65

0.00

Dairy

Shetland

353.99

0.00

213.44

0.00

Dairy

Tayside

3828.37

0.00

2308.38

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Ayrshire

    

Oilseed and linseed

Clyde Valley

    

Oilseed and linseed

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

352.59

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

East Central

0.00

0.00

254.65

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Fife

0.00

0.00

1790.68

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Grampian

0.00

0.00

11622.18

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Highland

0.00

0.00

1894.75

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Lothian

0.00

0.00

4260.34

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Na h-Eileanan Siar

    

Oilseed and linseed

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Scotland

0.00

0.00

35850.76

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

7698.54

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Tayside

0.00

0.00

7892.61

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Argyll and Bute

    

Orchard and soft fruit

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

0.66

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

8.49

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

4.65

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

East Central

    

Orchard and soft fruit

Fife

0.00

0.00

124.35

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Grampian

0.00

0.00

71.97

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Highland

0.00

0.00

24.63

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Lothian

0.00

0.00

6.18

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

1.80

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Orkney

    

Orchard and soft fruit

Scotland

0.00

0.00

699.81

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Scottish Borders

    

Orchard and soft fruit

Shetland

    

Orchard and soft fruit

Tayside

0.00

0.00

446.55

0.00

Other livestock

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

East Central

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Fife

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Grampian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Highland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Lothian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Scotland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Tayside

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Peas and beans

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Peas and beans

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

99.13

0.00

Peas and beans

Clyde Valley

    

Peas and beans

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

180.54

0.00

Peas and beans

East Central

    

Peas and beans

Fife

0.00

0.00

449.04

0.00

Peas and beans

Grampian

0.00

0.00

139.62

0.00

Peas and beans

Highland

0.00

0.00

52.63

0.00

Peas and beans

Lothian

0.00

0.00

495.76

0.00

Peas and beans

Na h-Eileanan Siar

    

Peas and beans

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Peas and beans

Scotland

0.00

0.00

2569.65

0.00

Peas and beans

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

698.64

0.00

Peas and beans

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Peas and beans

Tayside

0.00

0.00

394.27

0.00

Pig breeding

Argyll and Bute

213.10

0.00

0.00

23.56

Pig breeding

Ayrshire

82.72

0.00

0.00

9.15

Pig breeding

Clyde Valley

    

Pig breeding

Dumfries and Galloway

2516.59

0.00

0.00

278.23

Pig breeding

East Central

    

Pig breeding

Fife

353.30

0.00

0.00

39.06

Pig breeding

Grampian

27857.74

0.00

0.00

3079.85

Pig breeding

Highland

1798.77

0.00

0.00

198.87

Pig breeding

Lothian

2168.89

0.00

0.00

239.79

Pig breeding

Na h-Eileanan Siar

54.68

0.00

0.00

6.05

Pig breeding

Orkney

26.64

0.00

0.00

2.95

Pig breeding

Scotland

45947.75

0.00

0.00

5079.82

Pig breeding

Scottish Borders

5952.89

0.00

0.00

658.13

Pig breeding

Shetland

14.02

0.00

0.00

1.55

Pig breeding

Tayside

3823.25

0.00

0.00

422.69

Pig other

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Clyde Valley

    

Pig other

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

East Central

    

Pig other

Fife

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Grampian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Highland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Lothian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Scotland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Tayside

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Potatoes

Argyll and Bute

30.30

0.00

23.26

0.61

Potatoes

Ayrshire

1200.54

0.00

921.52

24.25

Potatoes

Clyde Valley

246.17

0.00

188.96

4.97

Potatoes

Dumfries and Galloway

1157.62

0.00

888.57

23.38

Potatoes

East Central

78.69

0.00

60.40

1.59

Potatoes

Fife

13502.63

0.00

10364.42

272.75

Potatoes

Grampian

23786.56

0.00

18258.22

480.48

Potatoes

Highland

6510.62

0.00

4997.46

131.51

Potatoes

Lothian

6583.42

0.00

5053.34

132.98

Potatoes

Na h-Eileanan Siar

151.49

0.00

116.28

3.06

Potatoes

Orkney

136.34

0.00

104.65

2.75

Potatoes

Scotland

119582.52

0.00

91789.82

2415.52

Potatoes

Scottish Borders

8788.83

0.00

6746.18

177.53

Potatoes

Shetland

52.18

0.00

40.05

1.05

Potatoes

Tayside

57355.88

0.00

44025.55

1158.57

Poultry broilers

Argyll and Bute

0.95

0.00

0.00

1.49

Poultry broilers

Ayrshire

18.27

0.00

0.00

28.70

Poultry broilers

Clyde Valley

3.70

0.00

0.00

5.81

Poultry broilers

Dumfries and Galloway

509.43

0.00

0.00

800.54

Poultry broilers

East Central

    

Poultry broilers

Fife

445.45

0.00

0.00

699.99

Poultry broilers

Grampian

    

Poultry broilers

Highland

3.96

0.00

0.00

6.23

Poultry broilers

Lothian

1284.94

0.00

0.00

2019.19

Poultry broilers

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.81

0.00

0.00

1.27

Poultry broilers

Orkney

1.31

0.00

0.00

2.06

Poultry broilers

Scotland

4468.18

0.00

0.00

7021.42

Poultry broilers

Scottish Borders

374.54

0.00

0.00

588.56

Poultry broilers

Shetland

0.75

0.00

0.00

1.18

Poultry broilers

Tayside

1262.32

0.00

0.00

1983.64

Poultry layers

Argyll and Bute

143.07

0.00

0.00

23.61

Poultry layers

Ayrshire

8778.37

0.00

0.00

1448.86

Poultry layers

Clyde Valley

2094.53

0.00

0.00

345.70

Poultry layers

Dumfries and Galloway

8512.27

0.00

0.00

1404.94

Poultry layers

East Central

61.88

0.00

0.00

10.21

Poultry layers

Fife

5668.39

0.00

0.00

935.56

Poultry layers

Grampian

14855.56

0.00

0.00

2451.89

Poultry layers

Highland

2172.42

0.00

0.00

358.56

Poultry layers

Lothian

4027.62

0.00

0.00

664.75

Poultry layers

Na h-Eileanan Siar

64.57

0.00

0.00

10.66

Poultry layers

Orkney

70.79

0.00

0.00

11.68

Poultry layers

Scotland

77982.27

0.00

0.00

12870.86

Poultry layers

Scottish Borders

24985.85

0.00

0.00

4123.88

Poultry layers

Shetland

39.06

0.00

0.00

6.45

Poultry layers

Tayside

5255.73

0.00

0.00

867.45

Sheep

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

8016.13

0.00

Sheep

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

8527.85

0.00

Sheep

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

8230.80

0.00

Sheep

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

19220.24

0.00

Sheep

East Central

0.00

0.00

5093.61

0.00

Sheep

Fife

0.00

0.00

1902.70

0.00

Sheep

Grampian

0.00

0.00

13517.22

0.00

Sheep

Highland

0.00

0.00

16220.40

0.00

Sheep

Lothian

0.00

0.00

4202.15

0.00

Sheep

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

2707.37

0.00

Sheep

Orkney

0.00

0.00

2459.53

0.00

Sheep

Scotland

0.00

0.00

129119.22

0.00

Sheep

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

21376.03

0.00

Sheep

Shetland

0.00

0.00

5472.80

0.00

Sheep

Tayside

0.00

0.00

12172.39

0.00

Wheat

Argyll and Bute

    

Wheat

Ayrshire

881.94

0.00

1530.98

288.30

Wheat

Clyde Valley

580.08

0.00

1006.96

189.62

Wheat

Dumfries and Galloway

2151.77

0.00

3735.27

703.40

Wheat

East Central

1137.36

0.00

1974.36

371.79

Wheat

Fife

8595.51

0.00

14921.03

2809.80

Wheat

Grampian

10266.12

0.00

17821.06

3355.91

Wheat

Highland

1563.93

0.00

2714.84

511.24

Wheat

Lothian

10611.21

0.00

18420.11

3468.72

Wheat

Na h-Eileanan Siar

    

Wheat

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Wheat

Scotland

64938.47

0.00

112727.32

21227.87

Wheat

Scottish Borders

14151.04

0.00

24564.93

4625.86

Wheat

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Wheat

Tayside

14974.24

0.00

25993.92

4894.96

Local Authorities within each agriculture region

The agricultural census was reported at regional level. To match this, the local authority GHG statistics were aggregated to this level based on the table below.

Region

Local Authority

Argyll & Bute

Argyll and Bute

Ayrshire

East Ayrshire

North Ayrshire

South Ayrshire

Clyde Valley

East Dunbartonshire

East Renfrewshire

Glasgow City

Inverclyde

North Lanarkshire

Renfrewshire

South Lanarkshire

West Dunbartonshire

Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway

East Central

Clackmannanshire

Falkirk

Stirling

Fife

Fife

Grampian

Aberdeen City

Aberdeenshire

Moray

Highland

Highland

Lothian

East Lothian

Midlothian

West Lothian

City of Edinburgh

Na h-Eileanan Siar

Na h-Eileanan Siar

Orkney

Orkney Islands

Scottish Borders

Scottish Borders

Shetland

Shetland Islands

Tayside

Angus

Dundee City

Perth and Kinross

Full Sectoral Breakdown

Emissions (kt CO2e) by sector, agriculture region and fuel input. Note that zero means either zero or trace energy input whereas a null value indicates that census data was suppressed to prevent disclosure of individual holdings.

Sector

Agriculture Region

Electricity

Gas

Mobile Machinery

Other Static

Barley spring

Argyll and Bute

0.95

0.00

1.81

0.28

Barley spring

Ayrshire

0.44

0.00

4.45

0.69

Barley spring

Clyde Valley

1.09

0.00

4.70

0.73

Barley spring

Dumfries and Galloway

0.57

0.00

6.22

0.96

Barley spring

East Central

1.60

0.00

5.22

0.81

Barley spring

Fife

2.45

0.00

6.11

0.95

Barley spring

Grampian

11.16

0.00

46.64

7.23

Barley spring

Highland

9.95

0.00

22.58

3.50

Barley spring

Lothian

1.47

0.00

4.30

0.67

Barley spring

Na h-Eileanan Siar

   

Barley spring

Orkney

1.78

0.00

4.23

0.66

Barley spring

Scottish Borders

1.38

0.00

10.36

1.61

Barley spring

Shetland

    

Barley spring

Tayside

4.75

0.00

17.59

2.73

Barley winter

Argyll and Bute

0.07

0.00

0.13

0.02

Barley winter

Ayrshire

0.11

0.00

1.10

0.17

Barley winter

Clyde Valley

0.26

0.00

1.12

0.17

Barley winter

Dumfries and Galloway

0.26

0.00

2.81

0.44

Barley winter

East Central

0.23

0.00

0.76

0.12

Barley winter

Fife

0.54

0.00

1.34

0.21

Barley winter

Grampian

1.65

0.00

6.88

1.07

Barley winter

Highland

0.44

0.00

0.99

0.15

Barley winter

Lothian

0.51

0.00

1.49

0.23

Barley winter

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Barley winter

Orkney

0.01

0.00

0.03

0.01

Barley winter

Scottish Borders

0.55

0.00

4.14

0.64

Barley winter

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Barley winter

Tayside

0.57

0.00

2.11

0.33

Beef

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

18.54

0.00

Beef

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

32.52

0.00

Beef

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

30.25

0.00

Beef

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

67.06

0.00

Beef

East Central

0.00

0.00

10.75

0.00

Beef

Fife

0.00

0.00

5.69

0.00

Beef

Grampian

0.00

0.00

49.23

0.00

Beef

Highland

0.00

0.00

36.96

0.00

Beef

Lothian

0.00

0.00

5.05

0.00

Beef

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

3.87

0.00

Beef

Orkney

0.00

0.00

26.63

0.00

Beef

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

25.52

0.00

Beef

Shetland

0.00

0.00

3.46

0.00

Beef

Tayside

0.00

0.00

11.23

0.00

Dairy

Argyll and Bute

11.17

0.00

6.15

0.00

Dairy

Ayrshire

10.43

0.00

30.44

0.00

Dairy

Clyde Valley

13.84

0.00

17.15

0.00

Dairy

Dumfries and Galloway

19.01

0.00

60.01

0.00

Dairy

East Central

5.53

0.00

5.20

0.00

Dairy

Fife

1.92

0.00

1.37

0.00

Dairy

Grampian

1.43

0.00

1.71

0.00

Dairy

Highland

2.84

0.00

1.85

0.00

Dairy

Lothian

0.85

0.00

0.71

0.00

Dairy

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.20

0.00

0.03

0.00

Dairy

Orkney

2.47

0.00

1.69

0.00

Dairy

Scottish Borders

1.40

0.00

3.01

0.00

Dairy

Shetland

2.85

0.00

0.59

0.00

Dairy

Tayside

0.87

0.00

0.92

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Ayrshire

    

Oilseed and linseed

Clyde Valley

   

Oilseed and linseed

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

0.31

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

East Central

0.00

0.00

0.24

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Fife

0.00

0.00

0.73

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Grampian

0.00

0.00

5.33

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Highland

0.00

0.00

2.04

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Lothian

0.00

0.00

1.62

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Na h-Eileanan Siar

   

Oilseed and linseed

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

5.18

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Oilseed and linseed

Tayside

0.00

0.00

3.15

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Argyll and Bute

   

Orchard and soft fruit

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

0.01

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

East Central

    

Orchard and soft fruit

Fife

0.00

0.00

0.05

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Grampian

0.00

0.00

0.03

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Highland

0.00

0.00

0.03

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Lothian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Orchard and soft fruit

Orkney

    

Orchard and soft fruit

Scottish Borders

   

Orchard and soft fruit

Shetland

    

Orchard and soft fruit

Tayside

0.00

0.00

0.18

0.00

Other livestock

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

East Central

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Fife

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Grampian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Highland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Lothian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other livestock

Tayside

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Peas and beans

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Peas and beans

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

0.10

0.00

Peas and beans

Clyde Valley

   

Peas and beans

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

0.16

0.00

Peas and beans

East Central

    

Peas and beans

Fife

0.00

0.00

0.18

0.00

Peas and beans

Grampian

0.00

0.00

0.06

0.00

Peas and beans

Highland

0.00

0.00

0.06

0.00

Peas and beans

Lothian

0.00

0.00

0.19

0.00

Peas and beans

Na h-Eileanan Siar

   

Peas and beans

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Peas and beans

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

0.47

0.00

Peas and beans

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Peas and beans

Tayside

0.00

0.00

0.16

0.00

Pig breeding

Argyll and Bute

0.31

0.00

0.00

0.03

Pig breeding

Ayrshire

0.02

0.00

0.00

0.01

Pig breeding

Clyde Valley

   

Pig breeding

Dumfries and Galloway

0.43

0.00

0.00

0.25

Pig breeding

East Central

    

Pig breeding

Fife

0.12

0.00

0.00

0.02

Pig breeding

Grampian

6.41

0.00

0.00

1.41

Pig breeding

Highland

1.79

0.00

0.00

0.21

Pig breeding

Lothian

0.59

0.00

0.00

0.09

Pig breeding

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.57

0.00

0.00

0.01

Pig breeding

Orkney

0.03

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig breeding

Scottish Borders

1.12

0.00

0.00

0.44

Pig breeding

Shetland

0.11

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig breeding

Tayside

0.86

0.00

0.00

0.17

Pig other

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Clyde Valley

   

Pig other

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

East Central

    

Pig other

Fife

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Grampian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Highland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Lothian

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Pig other

Tayside

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Potatoes

Argyll and Bute

0.04

0.00

0.03

0.00

Potatoes

Ayrshire

0.25

0.00

0.94

0.02

Potatoes

Clyde Valley

0.13

0.00

0.21

0.01

Potatoes

Dumfries and Galloway

0.20

0.00

0.79

0.02

Potatoes

East Central

0.05

0.00

0.06

0.00

Potatoes

Fife

4.63

0.00

4.22

0.11

Potatoes

Grampian

5.48

0.00

8.37

0.22

Potatoes

Highland

6.48

0.00

5.38

0.14

Potatoes

Lothian

1.80

0.00

1.92

0.05

Potatoes

Na h-Eileanan Siar

1.59

0.00

0.26

0.01

Potatoes

Orkney

0.14

0.00

0.13

0.00

Potatoes

Scottish Borders

1.66

0.00

4.54

0.12

Potatoes

Shetland

0.42

0.00

0.11

0.00

Potatoes

Tayside

12.96

0.00

17.58

0.46

Poultry broilers

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Poultry broilers

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.03

Poultry broilers

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.01

Poultry broilers

Dumfries and Galloway

0.09

0.00

0.00

0.71

Poultry broilers

East Central

    

Poultry broilers

Fife

0.15

0.00

0.00

0.28

Poultry broilers

Grampian

    

Poultry broilers

Highland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.01

Poultry broilers

Lothian

0.35

0.00

0.00

0.77

Poultry broilers

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.01

0.00

0.00

0.00

Poultry broilers

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Poultry broilers

Scottish Borders

0.07

0.00

0.00

0.40

Poultry broilers

Shetland

0.01

0.00

0.00

0.00

Poultry broilers

Tayside

0.29

0.00

0.00

0.79

Poultry layers

Argyll and Bute

0.21

0.00

0.00

0.03

Poultry layers

Ayrshire

1.86

0.00

0.00

1.48

Poultry layers

Clyde Valley

1.13

0.00

0.00

0.38

Poultry layers

Dumfries and Galloway

1.44

0.00

0.00

1.25

Poultry layers

East Central

0.04

0.00

0.00

0.01

Poultry layers

Fife

1.94

0.00

0.00

0.38

Poultry layers

Grampian

3.42

0.00

0.00

1.12

Poultry layers

Highland

2.16

0.00

0.00

0.39

Poultry layers

Lothian

1.10

0.00

0.00

0.25

Poultry layers

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.68

0.00

0.00

0.02

Poultry layers

Orkney

0.07

0.00

0.00

0.01

Poultry layers

Scottish Borders

4.71

0.00

0.00

2.77

Poultry layers

Shetland

0.31

0.00

0.00

0.02

Poultry layers

Tayside

1.19

0.00

0.00

0.35

Sheep

Argyll and Bute

0.00

0.00

10.50

0.00

Sheep

Ayrshire

0.00

0.00

8.73

0.00

Sheep

Clyde Valley

0.00

0.00

9.13

0.00

Sheep

Dumfries and Galloway

0.00

0.00

17.05

0.00

Sheep

East Central

0.00

0.00

4.87

0.00

Sheep

Fife

0.00

0.00

0.77

0.00

Sheep

Grampian

0.00

0.00

6.20

0.00

Sheep

Highland

0.00

0.00

17.47

0.00

Sheep

Lothian

0.00

0.00

1.60

0.00

Sheep

Na h-Eileanan Siar

0.00

0.00

6.05

0.00

Sheep

Orkney

0.00

0.00

2.95

0.00

Sheep

Scottish Borders

0.00

0.00

14.38

0.00

Sheep

Shetland

0.00

0.00

15.01

0.00

Sheep

Tayside

0.00

0.00

4.86

0.00

Wheat

Argyll and Bute

   

Wheat

Ayrshire

0.19

0.00

1.57

0.30

Wheat

Clyde Valley

0.31

0.00

1.12

0.21

Wheat

Dumfries and Galloway

0.36

0.00

3.31

0.62

Wheat

East Central

0.70

0.00

1.89

0.36

Wheat

Fife

2.95

0.00

6.07

1.14

Wheat

Grampian

2.36

0.00

8.17

1.54

Wheat

Highland

1.56

0.00

2.92

0.55

Wheat

Lothian

2.90

0.00

7.02

1.32

Wheat

Na h-Eileanan Siar

   

Wheat

Orkney

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Wheat

Scottish Borders

2.67

0.00

16.53

3.11

Wheat

Shetland

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Wheat

Tayside

3.38

0.00

10.38

1.95

List of assumptions setting the scope

Aspect

Scope

Assumption

Drying of grass for animal feed/silage

Depends on context

Out of scope, this would be covered under manufacturing. However, production for on-farm feed and post-harvest storage is in scope.

Horses/livery

Out of scope

Not included in the agricultural inventory, so out of scope.

Indoor or vertical farming

Out of scope

While energy intensive, it is very small scale in market. This will be scoped out. Especially as excluding urban areas for the dataset; some vertical farms will there for be missed. A future study could look at the specifics of decarbonising energy use by vertical farms/hydroponics.

Manufacturing on site

Out of scope

E.g., ice cream or cheese processing on site at a dairy farm; vegetable processing (cut or prepared vegetables); meat processing. This and other similar activities will be covered under the manufacturing inventory. It should be noted that vegetable processing can be complicated to set boundaries with inventories.

Organic farming

Included but not separated

This will be captured with the rest of the data, and it is a small proportion of all sectors. We will not disaggregate it out. A further study could look at the specifics of decarbonising energy use within organic farming.

On site processing

In scope

Packing and processing of fresh vegetables. Some fruit/veg packaged in field during harvest/in packhouses/harvested and stored loose. This is in scope (when on site) as packaging and storing is part of the process.

Onshore aquaculture/ hatcheries

Out of scope

Freshwater fish farms are out of scope as aquaculture does not come under agriculture.

Transport of animals

Out of scope (offsite)

Once offsite, past the farm gate, this is out of scope. A small amount of fuel within the farm gate will cover transport onsite, however, this is generally likely to be low. Most onsite fuel use in mobile machinery comes from farm vehicles used in daily operations for management/herding/transport to wintering housing onsite.

Urban areas

Out of scope

Agricultural practices only occur in rural areas, so data from urban areas are out of scope.

Energy needs by sector.

Assumptions of energy requirements for each sector are detailed in the table below.

Sector

Energy requirements

Beef

Low demands, similar to sheep. Small amount on mobile machinery. Small amount heating for calving and for small amount of warm/hot water for washing

Cereals

Drying, necessary requirement in Scotland. Cultivation power, drilling, harvest, transport (to storage on farm)

Dairy

Chillers, heating, lighting, small amount of warm/hot water. Some mobile (e.g., spreaders, HGVs needed for on-farm feed production). Some energy needs for robotic milking.

Fresh peas

Require chilling. Most peas in Scotland are fresh.

Potatoes

Power requirements and storage, chiller, dark house. Depends on variety (seed potatoes). Some mobile machinery.

Poultry (layers)

Layers – more steady demands – greater potential savings from improved control and heat recovery in heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. Intensive heat and energy, lighting. Housing.

Poultry (broilers)

Broilers – high demand on day 1 – rapidly diminishing heat demand as birds grow. Ventilation demand increases. Intensive heat and energy, lighting. Housing.

Pig

Intensive heat and energy, lighting. Housing.

Sheep

Small amount on mobile machinery, small amount of electricity or fuel for a generator for sheering machinery. Small amount heating for lambing and small amount of warm/hot water for washing.

Soft fruit

Energy intensive for chilling, and for heating of soft fruit growing environment to extend growing season and displace carbon intensive imports. Some mobile machinery, depending on produce

Appendix B: Methodology to task 2

  • The Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) methodology used for this project aligns with NERC methodology[73] and comprised of the following steps.
  • Define the search strategy protocol, identify key search words or terms, define inclusion/exclusion criteria. A list of key words, terms and search strings was created and reviewed by the project steering group to direct the REA review to the most relevant sources. This list was supported by Ricardo’s team of renewable energy technical experts and divided into seven relevant categories ‘Mobile demands’; ‘Stationary demands’; ‘Meeting demand’; ‘Generation technology’; ‘Agriculture related modifiers’; ‘Energy related modifiers’ and ‘General modifiers’ to ensure that all appropriate technologies and uses were identified which supported the focus the review. Any literature that is considered out of scope based on our list of assumptions was excluded from the search. We also excluded literature that is older than 10 years, unless it was from a credible source and was the only piece of evidence available (particularly for data).
  • Searching for evidence and recording findings. Literature was searched using Google Scholar and Science Direct, utilising our accounts with Science Direct and Research Gate to access restricted pdfs where required. Grey literature, such as farming press and industry, providing examples of technologies being deployed, was searched using Google. For each individual search a unique search reference was assigned and the date, search string used, total number of results found, and the total number of relevant papers found were recorded. Examples of search strings include:
  • “agriculture” “renewable energy” “Scotland”
  • “agriculture” “renewable energy” “bioenergy”
  • “agriculture” “circular economy” “Scotland”
  • “non-carbon tech” “Scotland” “farming” “land-use”

All results were recorded in an excel spreadsheet with information extracted on the following:

  • Country
  • Sector
  • Type of technology
  • Benefits and barriers of the technology
  • Cost of technology
  • Opportunity for the technology to support wider decarbonisation of energy production
  • Land use implications (including impact on agricultural production)
  • Opportunity for the agricultural sector to benefit from the second-hand market for renewable/ participate in circular economy.

A RAG (red, amber, green) rating was assigned to each source, based on the following criteria:

Description

Rating

Quality

Peer reviewed journal, sound data sources and methodology

Green

Government funded research reports, sound data sources and methodology

Green

Research funded by NGOs (e.g., AHDB), sound data sources and methodology

Amber

Work is unreliable because of unreliable data sources, or limited sources, or because the method is not robust

Red

Information from websites, blogs etc., of unknown quality

Red

Relevance

Timeframe: within last 10 years

Green

Timeframe: within last 20 years

Amber

Timeframe: older than 20 years

Red

  • Screening. Sources of evidence was then screened initially by title and then accepted papers were then screened again using the summary or abstract. Literature was screened for information on the following inclusion criteria:
  • Non-carbon technology
  • Benefits, enablers and barriers of non-carbon technology
  • Opportunity for technology to support wider decarbonisation of energy production
  • Potential and opportunity for the agricultural sector to benefit from the second-hand market and participate in circular economy
  • Land use implications and the impact on agricultural production
  • Extract and appraise the evidence. The screening provided an organised list of papers which enabled evidence to be extracted directly from the literature into the report. Literature extracted also guided the internal workshop and supported information included in the SWOT and PESTLE tables.

Appendix C: Overview and details on technologies associated with carbon dioxide reduction potential in the agricultural sector[74]

Mitigation option

Technology

GHG reduction method

Co-effects

Constraints

CAPEX (£)

OPEX (£)

Cost effectiveness £ t CO2eq

Abatement potential

kt CO2eq

Precision farming technology

VRA N fertiliser for 500 ha farm, assuming a 200 HP, GPS compatible tractor is available on the farm

Soil N2O, fuel CO2, increased yield

Reduced pesticide use, phosphorous pollution and water use, reduced soil compaction

Time consuming data collection and analysis; Incompatibilities between different PF technologies; Uncertainties regarding the expected performance of PF; More farmer involvement would be needed in the decision support systems

17,250

200

-112

76

Auto guidance for 500 ha farm, assuming 2 tractors (200 HP, GPS compatible) are available on the farm

30,000

1,500

Controlled traffic system

30,000

1,500

Basic system (auto-steering, yield monitor, VRA seeding)

40,000

n/a

Basic system (auto-steering, yield monitor, VRA seeding)

100,00 + 22/ha

n/a

Site specific weed management for 500 ha farm

42,000

200

Tractor control

10,500

n/a

Variable rate seed drill

34,000

n/a

Variable rate fertiliser spreader

19,500

n/a

Precision livestock farming

EID readers and software

All livestock emissions, yield

Emissions intensity of all livestock related pollution is reduced

Lack of flexibility of the equipment; Fear of the technology; Lack of training; Amount of data generated

500-2,300

n/a

n/a

n/a

Weigh crate (weighing and automatic sorting of sheep)

7,500-10,000

n/a

Silent herdsman – cattle heat detection (collars, base station & PC with software)

2,500 + 85 (animal to observe)

n/a

HeatWatch – cattle heat detection (patch, base station, software)

2,800-3,500 + 3 (animal to observe)

n/a

Robotic milking in dairy cow (auto milking system with dynamic feeding related to milk yield; ID of animals with treatment)

70-100k

n/a

Virtual fence (battery powered receiver on collar, induction cable & transformer)

350 + 210/ animal

n/a

Minimum tillage and no-till

Direct drill

Energy CO2, uncertain soil C effect, increased yield (potential negative impact on soil N2O)

Improved soil quality and soil biodiversity, (though potentially increased need for herbicides)

Acquiring of new management skills; High perceived risk; Anticipated short term pest problems

30-60k

n/a

n/a

n/a

Agroforestry

Fertiliser and herbicide specialist distributer

Soil and biomass C, soil N2O, energy CO2

Improved soil quality, biodiversity, reduced agrochemical use, buffering effect of tress on the heating and cooling of the land area and livestock

Regarded as high-risk decision; Low allocations of grant support for establishment are available in the current scheme

30k

1k

n/a

n/a

Telelifting equipment for manual pruning

45k

1k

Fertiliser & sprayers for 4WD bikes

12k

500

Anaerobic digestion

AD plant

Manure CH4, Energy CO2

Reduced N leaching (though potentially increased competition for land)

Continuity of supply of additional feedstocks; Land and crop availability for timely distribution of digestate; Risk of contamination from imported feedstock; Matching seasonal heat demands to CHP output; Availability of electricity and/or gas grid connections; Planning difficulties

1.5m for 250 kW

3.9m for 1 Mwe

110 for 250 kW 250k for 1 MW (excluding crop production costs and income from electricity and heat)

Cattle manure & maize: 131 Pig & poultry manure & maize: -20 Maize only: -43

Cattle manure & maize: 131 Pig & poultry manure & maize: -20 Maize only: -43

Capital investment in fuel efficiency

Electric quad bikes

Energy CO2

Reduced air pollution from fuel use

Development of hydrogen production facilities at farm level and associated supply chain

10k

n/a

n/a

n/a

Electric lift trucks

20k

n/a

Euro 3 engines

n/a

n/a

Energy efficient heating and ventilation of livestock buildings

Energy efficient fans and fan controllers

Energy CO2

Reduced air pollution from fuel use

Suitability of technologies to some buildings; Long term contracts for maintenance of some technologies; Uncertain continuity of government support policies; Support for renewables can negate the potential financial benefits

From 1k

n/a

Biomass boiler

20k

0.05/kWh

Other tech and building design

n/a

n/a

Energy efficient crop drying

Biomass boiler

Energy CO2 (grain stirrers might increase fuel use)

Reduced air pollution from fuel use

Long lifetime of existing grain dryers

20k

0.05/kWh

Grain stirrer

15-20k

n/a

Moisture sensors

2-20k

216-540

Energy efficient milking and milk handling

Heat recovery

Energy CO2

Reduced air pollution from fuel use

Need for the consideration of the system as a whole to improve efficiency of all parts together; Support for renewables can negate the potential financial benefits

>3.5k

n/a

Variable speed milk pumps

2k

n/a

Low emission livestock housing

Littered system (gestating sows) (retrofit more expensive)

Energy CO2

Reduced NH3

emissions from

housing

n/a

£47.67 –

£55.41 (pig

place)-1, new build

n/a

n/a

n/a

Littered system (growers-finishers) (retrofit more expensive)

£25.72 (pig

place)-1, new build

n/a

Manure channel with sloped floor (weaners) (retrofit more expensive)

£0-0.23 (pig place)-1, new build

n/a

Manure channel with sloped floor (growers-finishers) (retrofit more expensive)

£0.73 (pig place)-1, new build

n/a

Appendix D: Extended SWOT tables

Solar PV

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Low running costs, cost-effective
  • Low maintenance
  • Space optimisation (e.g., when used on rooves, greenhouses (GHs))
  • Protect crops from excessive heat in GHs.
  • More energy efficient (e.g., in grain drying, GHs)
  • Multi-purpose and applicable to a wide range of needs – can be used for drying, heating, water heating, electricity gen, cooling, ventilation – combined with other tech to provide these things.
  • Suitable for off-grid networks
  • Onsite electricity generation reduces costs of activities onsite (e.g., EVs over diesel; heat pumps displacing oil boilers)
  • High compatibility with agricultural activities
  • Reduces emissions compared to FFs.
  • Hybrid wind-solar system – enhanced reliability of energy provision
  • Relatively easy to install – flexibility of the system (scalable)
  • Established solar PV supply chain already.
  • Solar panels in fields can provide shade for small livestock (e.g., sheep & goats), improving animal welfare
  • High initial installation costs
  • Not sufficient energy in rainy seasons
  • Fluctuations in energy generation (can also cause storage problems)
  • Reduced agricultural outputs by taking land out of production or reducing available productive land, for livestock or arable sectors.
  • Training needed to upskill for repairs and maintenance of panels.
  • Solar electric tractor (ET) battery chargers have low efficiency.
  • PVs on farm robots or ETs can overheat.
  • Humidity affects solar ET power output.
  • PVs are only suitable for low-lift small scale irrigation systems.

Opportunities

Threats

  • Long term income stream from electricity distribution network exports. Helps to manage costs, reduces imports and reduces risk of fluctuating costs.
  • High potential to power EVs, easily adapted in mechanised farm activities.
  • Agrophotovoltaics (APV) could increase land productivity by about 35-73%
  • APVs are an innovative opportunity to maintain the agricultural function of land while increasing solar generating capacity.
  • Solar PV has high potential in the poultry sector.
  • Diversified farms (e.g., tourism) are more likely to install solar panels onsite.
  • Opportunity for marginal land to be used for solar PV
  • Lack of planning issues for smaller scale solar panels creates enabling environment for potential uptake.
  • Ground under solar panels is left fallow for the duration of the lease agreement; it gives this land the opportunity to rebalance, replenish and recover during periods that may have previously been uneconomical downtime.
  • Opportunity for multiple land uses (e.g., sheep grazing and solar)
  • Integration of PV into a wide range of agricultural components can be a solution to decrease the presence of oil-based fuels on arable lands, avoiding soil contamination.
  • Opportunity for solar to charge batteries for small agricultural applications such as, pumping, electric fencing, lighting, small electronic systems.
  • Potential for recycling solar PV in the supply chain.
  • Many farms have large barns or sheds to mount solar panels.
  • Tenanted farms are less likely to install solar panels.
  • Cloudy weather has a negative impact on solar energy generation storage.
  • Heavy runoff from panels, which can increase soil erosion.
  • Not ideal when solar radiation is low, or it cannot be efficiently used in time when ambient heating is most needed.
  • The production of solar panels has an environmental impact as well from rare metal mining.
  • Electricity distribution network access is an issue for larger commercial projects.
  • Anything over 1kW that is ground mounted needs full planning permission.
  • Social acceptance
  • Change in seasons affecting solar radiation? – Scotland specific

Onshore wind

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Can be located on agricultural land with low land footprint.
  • Modern wind turbines have low noise pollution.
  • Hybrid wind-solar system – enhanced reliability of energy provision
  • Reliable in windy areas (such as Scotland)
  • Requires little maintenance over a long period of time. Maintenance conducted by external contractors so not taking up time of staff on site to maintain.
  • Long-term investment (long lifespan, around 20-25 years)
  • Established supply chain (skilled people available for installation)
  • Cheap renewable energy technology that is price competitive with new clean coal power stations
  • Flexible and scalable – ranging from one small turbine to several large units.
  • Access tracks and paths needed to install and reach wind turbines can also provide access for local communities and off grid farms
  • High initial investment despite falling costs in recent years.
  • Long payback time, depending on the size of the turbine and energy generation and usage.
  • Noise pollution is worse in larger turbines.
  • Threat to wildlife, especially birds and bats
  • Highly visible
  • Can degrade high carbon soils when poorly located.
  • Depending on the unit size there are differences in suitability for location.

Opportunities

Threats

  • Livestock can graze the base of the wind turbine, so productive area is minimally impacted.
  • Ideal for remote locations in Scotland
  • Long term income stream from electricity distribution network exports. Helps to manage costs, reduces imports and reduces risk of fluctuating costs.
  • Existing second-hand market for wind turbine parts in Scotland provides room for low-cost uptake.
  • Wind farms on Scottish cropland are found to generate more energy and have higher carbon opportunity costs than other land use types.
  • Wind turbines are more likely to be situated in areas with high wind speed, high latitude and altitude, and in holdings with large sheep flocks, making it ideal for Scotland.
  • The UK (and Scotland) has some of the best wind resources in Europe.
  • Opportunity for wind to charge batteries for small agricultural applications such as water heating, pumping, electric fencing, lighting, small electronic systems.
  • Potential for knowledge sharing and adapting successful wind projects to local purposes provides a resource with significant potential.
  • There is an opportunity for large wind turbines to power big electricity generators and support an uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). The significant wind capacity in Scotland combined with other technologies can overcome constraints associated with EVs, especially in remote areas.
  • Wind has the potential to play a part in just transition, with a focus on uptake in rural areas or areas with poor energy access or network connection
  • Limited existing electricity distribution network access
  • Scotland has many zones of natural heritage and designated sites, such as AONBs, RAMSAR sites, national parks, and others. These can affect planning permission acceptance, especially for larger wind developments.
  • The opportunity cost of wind farms do not provide the monetary support in agriculture that can economically compete with the financial benefit generated by wind energy.
  • Farms that engage in tourism are less likely to have wind turbines on the property. As farms seek diversification this can present a threat to uptake.
  • Social acceptance: negative public opinion of wind turbines due to visibility
  • Government policy and support is inconsistent, which makes investment a risk.
  • Wind farms situated in upland peatland areas damage peat during construction, and tracks over moorland damage flora.
  • Trees have been known to be removed during access to construct turbines.
  • Wind farms on undegraded peats are likely to further increase carbon emissions.
  • Compliance with crofting legislation – projects on croft land or common grazing require further action and planning considerations.
  • It is difficult to find someone to maintain second hand market parts and insurance is not always available for second hand wind turbines

Hydrogen

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Hydrogen is a non-toxic fuel and disperses quickly when released.
  • Does not produce carbon emissions at the point of combustion and only produces water if electrochemically combined with oxygen.
  • Hydrogen powered vehicles when compared to EVs, avoiding the need for charging tools. However, significant infrastructure is required for hydrogen use.
  • The capital cost of a hydrogen internal combustion engine will not be much more expensive than diesel versions equivalent by 2030.
  • Extensive trials on hydrogen retrofitting fuel cells on tractors have shown lots of benefits, e.g., fuel savings that have ranged from 11% to 29% and a reduction in emissions of up to 80%.
  • Green hydrogen can be produced during off-peak periods or times when there is excess renewable electricity, instead of curtailing the excess energy.
  • Hydrogen can store energy for a long duration. E.g., renewable energy system can generate hydrogen which can then be stored for long periods.
  • Hydrogen vehicles can store more energy and therefore have a higher working range than EVs.
  • Hydrogen vehicles are lighter than EVs so they can navigate difficult terrain more easily
  • There are few pilot projects demonstrating hydrogen in the agriculture sector.
  • The high energy requirement of hydrogen production – 1kg hydrogen requires approximately 400kWh of electricity – means a lot of power is required and therefore on-site production is most suited to farmers that already have renewable energy generation on site or have ample space to install more.
  • As hydrogen is a gas, challenges arise in trying to store and contain it. This causes a logistical problem as specialist infrastructure is required through the supply chain to compress, contain, transport, store and refuel.
  • High capital cost/initial investment in on-site storage and refuelling infrastructure. Much higher cost if on-site production is planned.
  • Green hydrogen is currently both hard to come by and expensive, with costs that will unfortunately be passed to the farmer.
  • Highly-combustible, prone to leakage – can be dangerous when storing on site, and there are requirements for storage and use under UK-wide Health and Safety Executive guidelines. UK has a strong track record in using hydrogen safely.
  • Low volumetric energy density.

Opportunities

Threats

  • An alternative hydrogen-production process could be achieved in which agricultural wastes and various other biomasses can be recycled to produce it. Farmers can be given the tools to generate their own green fuel, eliminating the need for costly, imported fossil fuels. The by-product carbon dioxide can be carbon negative if sequestered, earning extra revenue.
  • Can be used in farm machinery to cut emissions, without the complications that come with heavy EV batteries.
  • Landowners have space to develop on-site renewable power generation for localised hydrogen production.
  • As a growing proportion of Scotland’s energy production comes from renewable sources located in rural areas, there is the potential for hydrogen production from electricity distribution network connection.
  • Hydrogen and renewable power systems on-site have the potential to create local renewable energy communities in remote areas, providing energy to surrounding farms and businesses.
  • There are already UK-wide capital and revenue incentives for hydrogen, such as the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund[75] and the Hydrogen Business Model
  • The Scottish Government has a Hydrogen Action Plan and Route Map to 2030 and 2045, supporting investment in hydrogen[76]
  • The major problem in utilization of hydrogen gas as a fuel is its unavailability in nature and the need for expensive investment in supply chains.
  • Public refuelling infrastructure in the UK is still lacking.
  • An adequate electricity distribution network connection for on-site production can be expensive and take a long time to be implemented, particularly in rural environments.
  • There is little policy consideration for hydrogen in rural context.
  • Current market players are focussed on contracting with larger scale customers.
  • Margins are fine in the agricultural sector and red diesel (untaxed) is cheaper than hydrogen.
  • NOx emissions are still present from combustion but can be managed to low levels via lean combustion or flue gas recycling.
  • The hydrogen sector is relying on technological improvements and at-scale manufacturing to reach long-term cost competitiveness.
  • Hydrogen in a rural context is a nascent area and new developments and innovations are expected, but currently the evidence base for applications of hydrogen are limited to pilot projects which could scale, such as HydroGlen at Glensaugh Farm, which is run by the James Hutton Institute and received Scottish Government funding[77].

Bioenergy

Strengths

Weaknesses

Various types of bioenergy can be used to replace fossil fuels.

Solid Biomass

  • Well-developed technology
  • Woody Biomass contributes to GHG emissions mitigation in the energy sector since it displaces fossil fuels with high carbon content.
  • Woody biomass (e.g. Short Rotation Coppice) contributes greater soil carbon sequestration during growth in comparison to cultivated crops in the same area.
  • Benefits of SRC, miscanthus & forestry – reduced erosion and improved flood reduction
  • Marginal land can be used for SRC.

AD/Biogas/Biomethane

  • Makes use of raw materials and by-products straight from the farm/onsite, manages waste from livestock farming, helping reduce the need for storage, maintain environmental safety, reduces GHG emissions and stimulating the development of local economies.
  • Waste to biogas using AD is considered most environmentally friendly due to minimum carbon leakage and positive waste resource recycling impact.
  • Safe treatment and disposal of agricultural waste
  • By-product from AD is digestate which can be re-applied to soils as an organic fertiliser.
  • Use of slurry for AD reduces methane emissions that would arrive from slurry storage.

Liquid biofuels e.g., biodiesel and bioethanol

  • Ethanol has a competitive price in the market.
  • Non-toxic, biodegradable, free of sulphur
  • Works in any diesel engine with few or no modifications
  • Biodiesel provides mobile machinery users with an alternative fuel that will allow ‘business as usual’ operation. Each engine model will have stipulations for the maximum percentage of liquid biofuels that can used without modification to the engine. Some engines can operate on 100% liquid biofuels by volume.

Solid Biomass

  • High cost for maintenance of biomass boilers, especially in comparison to other options and boilers. Issue with unreliability and need for overhaul (high CAPEX)
  • High competition in the wood fuel market
  • Forestry biomass can be of unreliable quality and supply is not always guaranteed.
  • Air quality can be a concern for farms nearby urban areas.

AD/Biogas/Biomethane

  • Gate fees remain a significant deterrent for farmers (who can simply land spread their untreated livestock waste for free)
  • Significant investment required.
  • AD plants require large footprint.
  • Upgrading of biogas (50–65% CH4) to biomethane (>90% CH4) is costly and energy demanding.
  • AD will often not be suitable for small-scale farms.
  • Lignocellulosic rich waste streams require pre-treatment before AD to improve methane yield.

Liquid biofuels e.g., biodiesel and bioethanol

  • Dedicated land for growing crops for biofuels would be in competition with human/animal feed production.
  • FAME’s (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) is often associated with more maintenance issues than fossil fuels.
  • Current production of perennial energy crops in Scotland is very low.
  • Some suboptimal use – use for financial incentive but not always the best tech for specific uses. Previous incentive schemes encourage uptake.
  • Producing biofuels is not energy-efficient (Biofuel)
  • GHG reduction is modest compared to other measures (Biofuel)
  • High costs and complexity of the logistics and supply chain management
  • Developments in biomethane infrastructure are needed for natural gas transport fuels to be feasible (N Ireland)
  • Storing and transporting biodiesel and pure plant oil
  • Securing feedstock can be challenging (AD)
  • AD recovery yield can vary widely depending on feedstock and operational conditions applied.
  • Suitability of technologies to some buildings (e.g., Biomass boiler)
  • Range of biomethane tractors may not be sufficient for a full day’s work.
  • (Case study) Cost of putting the kit in to clean up the biogas to make biomethane, and then to compress it into a tank to fuel a tractor, was not competitive with red diesel.
  • Biodiesel is water intolerant and thickens at temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius, therefore, shelf life is limited and is more complex to store than fossil diesel.
  • Technology take off for pure plant oil due to technical limitations.
  • wood pellets and contracted energy crop come at a large financial cost.
  • transport of manure (CAD)
  • Few commercially available biomass CHP systems available on the market other than those based on anaerobic digestion (biomass CHP)
  • Current high costs of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) (biodiesel)

Opportunities

Threats

If combined with carbon capture and storage, bioenergy can be deemed as carbon negative.

Solid Biomass

  • The use of forest and agricultural residues does not compete with crop production.
  • Pyrolysis and gasification of solid biomass produces a by-product known as biochar which can be used as a soil improver, animal feed supplement and for water treatment.
  • Ash from combustion can be used as a fertiliser.

AD/Biogas/Biomethane

  • Biogas can be used like natural gas to directly heat facilities on site and produce electricity via Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
  • Biogas can be upgraded to bio-hydrogen via steam reforming.
  • Cellulosic feedstocks grow well on marginal lands (cellulosic biomass crop) (biofuel)
  • biogas and electricity production in terms of techno economic evaluation is feasible in all types of dairy farms, which allows the self-sufficiency of energy based on organic waste (Biogas)
  • Price support in the past has led to exponential increases in uptake; future price support schemes could do the same (Biogas)
  • An AD plant can provide a constant base load of energy to help fill the gaps created with other intermittent energy supplies (case study)
  • There are opportunities for local AD plants and agricultural waste biomass plants on islands in Scotland, reducing the communities’ carbon footprint due to removing the need to ship waste to the Shetland Island for disposal (case study)
  • Wider point on value derived from resources that are not fully used to their full potential – circular economy.
  • Supply of bioresources is often not sustainable – stringent sustainability criterion needs to be imposed.
  • Uncertain farm-scale profitability of biogas
  • Taking fields out of food production (biogas, biofuel, and biomass) (STFA said this will take 10,117ha of Scotland’s best arable land out of production for the agricultural industry, threatening supplies of straw (AD)). However, the RTFO[78] has a ‘crop-cap’ to mediate this.
  • Cultural and declining significance of Scottish crofting by land use changes related to the uptake of bioenergy crops (Land use)
  • global demand for food production could lead to an increase in arable farming (land use)
  • There are barriers to developing biomass energy production technology.
  • Changing energy policy complicates the financial appraisal of AD projects.
  • Agricultural reuse of anaerobic digestate as potential renewable fertiliser can pose some hygienic and environmental hazards as well as storage issues (due to the limitation of land disposal imposed by the Nitrates Council Directive)
  • AD plants which use distillery co-products, such as draff, pot ale and dark drains, as a feedstock have constrained supply and increased their prices. This had had a knock-on effect for farmers who purchase these products as animal feed.
  • If there were to be widespread adoption of biomethane as an alternative fuel for agricultural mobile machinery in Scotland, there would likely be large pressures on biomethane production and availability.
  • concerns with the effects of potential ‘methane slips’ in biomethane machinery

Hydropower

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Low maintenance costs of hydro-powered water pumps due to their simple construction features, which leads to a maximum equipment lifetime, and are thus more efficient.
  • Reliable and suitable for agricultural uses
  • Micro-hydro schemes tend to give a more constant generation compared to wind or solar PV.
  • Micro-hydro systems also have low maintenance and a life expectance of 25 years or more.
  • Once installed, hydro schemes are relatively unobtrusive and very quiet.
  • Most systems should last 30-50 years
  • In terms of agriculture, uptake will still be limited by site suitability, high capital cost, the need to obtain an abstraction licence.
  • Hydropower water pumps are not popular due to a limited number of locations, site-specific environmental problems, lack of suitable water flows, and negative ecological effects.
  • Seasonal variation in streamflow causes variation and disturbance in energy supply.
  • Hydroelectric generation is currently the highest volumetric use of water in Scotland. The development of large-scale hydroelectric schemes has had an extensive impact on the water bodies of the Highlands.
  • Reserving large volumes of water in reservoirs for generation purposes is technically a form of water use, and the sheer volume of flows involved can impose environmental costs and (economic) opportunity costs.

Opportunities

Threats

  • There is considerable scope in Scotland for the development of further small-to-medium sized installations, particularly for run of the river (RoR) type.
  • RoR types have potential to make contribution to Scotland’s renewable energy targets, especially as hydropower technology is mature and the resource is generally considered to be less variable than alternatives such as wind.
  • Small scale hydropower development may help to meet renewable energy and carbon emissions targets while also offering opportunities for diversification and employment in rural communities.
  • Planning permission often smoother than for other renewable projects
  • This is a potential renewable energy source for agriculture that could offer controllable electricity production. small dams with turbines were one of the first options for mechanical force generation (e.g., mills) and electricity production in the agricultural sector.
  • If the electricity distribution network is to be significantly extended in the future, for example when building connections for other renewable technologies such as wind, it is possible that more hydropower would also become economically feasible.
  • Need for planning permission.
  • High cost of making efficient connections to the existing electricity distribution network.
  • During dry summers an increased demand for irrigation water in agricultural areas may lead to further reductions in energy generation capacity.
  • ambitious targets for afforestation set out in the Scottish Land Use Strategy[79] have the potential to change evapotranspiration rates and thereby alter runoff characteristics in some regions.
  • Licensing can be challenging.
  • Electricity distribution network connection and land ownership can be two of the biggest limiting factors.
  • Where a watercourse forms the boundary between two farms, formal permission from the neighbour will be needed.
  • Flooding is a potential risk, so sites should be designed to ensure generators and electrical equipment are above the flood level and bypass channels may be needed to divert flood water

Heat pumps

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Multi-use – can be used to provide simultaneous heating and cooling – according to season (heat in winter and cooling in summer) and/or function (e.g., cold store and greenhouse).
  • More financially viable when there is a heating and cooling demand (e.g., grain drying plus potato cold store) – offers savings that are not possible using other technologies.
  • High energy efficiency – produce 3-5 units of heat for each unit of consumed electricity.
  • GSHP (ground source heat pumps) with underfloor heating and fan coil units provide even distribution of heat throughout poultry sheds.
  • Passive cooling removes excess heat from the sheds. Circulation pumps then return it to the ground where it is stored for future heat cycles. Farms can therefore switch from heating to free cooling without affecting response times.
  • GSHP suitable technology for crop and grain drying floors.
  • Despite the initial disturbance to land, excavations only need to go down to 1.2m – once the plant is installed, pastureland recovers quickly.
  • Less fire risk for drying systems operating on heat pumps than diesel generators which dry products using combustion gases.
  • Installation costs can be high but with both heating and cooling demands heat pumps can become more financially attractive.
  • Need certain amount of space for ground collectors.
  • The supply chain for installation and maintenance of heat pumps is still developing.
  • Depending on the relative price of gas and electricity, sites may have increased running costs when switching to a heat pump from fossil fuel heating plant.
  • Ground-source heat pumps require ground disruption – impact on drains and under below ground services need to be managed carefully.
  • Sites with on high electricity tariffs may have increased running costs when switching to a heat pump from fossil fuel heating plant.
  • Sites may require an electricity distribution network capacity upgrade.
  • In the context of agriculture, heat pump systems will be larger and more specific than domestic settings, therefore maintenance costs can be high.

Opportunities

Threats

  • For sites with renewable power generation, heat pumps can utilise this to reduce operating costs and carbon footprint.
  • Heat energy is the second largest energy use in the agricultural sector, as much of this heat is relatively low temperatures it is ideal for heat pump applications.
  • Opportunity for use in dairy farming – chilled water from heat pump can be used to chill milk from 18°C to 3.5°C using a one pass plate heat exchanger.
  • Heat pumps can recover waste heat and upgrade it to desired temperatures.
  • High Temperature Heat Pumps (HTHPs) are beginning to become available
  • Payback period depends on relative gas and electricity prices.
  • Most heat pumps provide temperatures of up to 50-60°C therefore for space heating application, user needs well insulated property or must increase radiator area. However, high temperature heat pumps (HTHPs) are becoming available.
  • For sites with high heat pump utilisation, risk that ground loop reduces soil temperatures thereby potentially impacting arable land

Electric vehicles (EV) and Electrification

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Lower operating/fuel costs, improved accuracy.
  • Low wear and maintenance costs.
  • Are noise and pollution free at point of use.
  • Electric motors are up to three times as efficient (compared to traditional combustion engines) when using a battery as the energy source and a fully electric drive train.
  • If the electricity is produced from renewable sources, the CO2 reduction potential is near 100%.
  • Electrification enables the use of renewable energy produced on farm, using wind, photovoltaic solar or bio-digestion.
  • Farmers can charge their machines at their own farm (provided they have the infrastructure) – meaning they are not reliant on public/nationwide charging infrastructure rollout.
  • Robots can repeat almost all activities with greater accuracy, which supports precision and energy efficiency
  • The main limitation of battery electric vehicle (BEV) technology is the inability to currently support all necessary farming activities at its current state of maturity.
  • Due to lithium-ion battery technology’s low energy density, to reach the same levels of power in a BEV alternative would require an unfeasibly heavy and large battery to be used (resulting in issues such as soil compaction).
  • Charging infrastructure barriers and considerations that currently affect use include:
  • Power of charging – needs to be powerful enough to charge machinery to the required amount – tend to be heavy duty vehicles.
  • Speed of charging – Sufficient time to charge is required, to enable a full charge to maximise use before charging is required again.
  • Charging infrastructure with inadequate power/speed may also lead to trade-offs including longer working days for farmers, reduced total field time, or having to recharge multiple times a day. Potentially reduced operation time (depending on power/speed of charging – see above).
  • High purchase/production costs associated with batteries, their replacement, and price of agricultural electricity can significantly affect life cycle costs, affecting viability for farmers.
  • There are environmental concerns relating to battery production, including procurement of rare minerals/material required and associated GHG emissions of these activities.
  • Robotics – Initial capital investment costs are likely to be prohibitive to small farms.

Opportunities

Threats

  • Significant opportunities for emission reduction potential in the future as electrification matures (including reduction in costs over time).
  • Current BEV alternatives have the potential to replace diesel mobile machinery in small scale horticulture, indoor fruit growing and grounds maintenance activities.
  • There are more opportunities for heavy use farms to replace with EVs due to higher/faster vehicle stock replacement cycles.
  • Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology can result in EVs being used as decentralised electric storage resources, leading to the creation of a new income stream.
  • More potential economic benefits of using BEVs for agriculture – low operating costs and opportunities for better exploitation of in-site renewable energy sources.
  • Advances in the technology will enable UK vehicle manufacturers to develop new products that span the transition from the current diesel-powered farm vehicles to the robotic farming systems – the UK is well placed to implement these changes due to its strong automotive sector in industrial and agricultural vehicles, with extensive infrastructure already in place.
  • Possibility/allowance to do operations close to the farm for charging or indoor applications.
  • Electrical power offers greater controllability and opportunities for implement automation e.g., precision seeding.
  • Robotics – CEMA (European Agricultural Machinery) suggest precision farming and smart machine technology rank among the most cost effective GHG reduction measures for agriculture in the years to come.
  • Systems are in use and under development for autonomously monitoring livestock and collecting field data, all commercially useful for efficient and productive livestock farming.
  • Small robotic platforms with low to medium power ratings will be suitable for selective harvesting, weeding, logistics support, or crop care
  • Biodiesel, biomethane, and hydrogen are currently considered to be more suitable for arable applications, largely due to charging requirements. However, the availability of each of these fuels, alongside the cost of the technology and its associated infrastructure is a significant barrier (so also a potential opportunity).
  • Terrain of rural roads and seasonal changes can negatively impact upon predicted range and user experience.
  • Varying agriculture vehicle stock replacement rate/ lifecycle – large diesel vehicles are likely to remain in practical use for many years to come, and when they are replaced, are often used in the second-hand market Low use / smaller farms/holdings are also likely to have longer replacement cycles or be more cautious about moving to alternatively fuelled vehicles.
  • Robotics – the UK RAS (robotic and autonomous systems) community has no specific training paths or Centres for Doctoral Training to provide trained human resource capacity for RAS within Agri-Food.
  • There is a concern that RAS for Agri-Food projects being commissioned currently are too few and too small-scale

Appendix E: Extended PESTLE table

 

Enabling factors

Preventative factors

Political

  • Government policy such as the renewable obligation certificates that incentivise renewable energy uptake in Scotland can bring down costs and increase uptake on large farms.
  • The Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) programme supports communities to engage with and benefit from the energy transition to net zero emissions. Local communities can access funding to install renewable technologies.
  • Feed in Tariff (FiT) support schemes provides investment in small-scale renewable projects up to 5MW capacity.
  • Political will for decarbonisation (e.g., 2045 net zero targets for Scottish Agriculture)
  • The profitability of the farms producing renewable energy is now vulnerable to the institutional arrangements of the energy regime and its sectoral policies.
  • Government policy is inconsistent, which makes investment in renewable energy a risk.
  • Conflicting policies and targets can impact uptake (e.g., afforestation targets can indirectly divert water away from hydropower installations)
  • Lack of regulation over nascent technologies (e.g., hydrogen, robotics)

Economic

  • Capital grants or support schemes can help farmers shoulder on-farm costs and encourage uptake.
  • Larger scale installations can offer opportunities for diversification and employment in rural communities.
  • There is a general desire to diversify farm income.
  • Energy price rises driving change.
  • Supermarket requirements driving change down the value chain.
  • Integrated business strategies focusing on just transition and diversification (e.g., making the most of your site
  • Agricultural sector is a large part of Scottish rural areas and islands, meaning there are many areas in scope of potential uptake of renewable energy on farms.
  • Purchase of equipment for collective use within communities
  • High initial capital expenditure requirements for most renewable technology installations
  • Lack of access to capital and grants and uncertainty in available capital to invest.
  • Economic viability of farmers: future uncertainty heightened by agricultural transition and changes in support payments since Brexit.
  • Increase in prices of rural land due to bioenergy crops and corporate and private interest in land for carbon and nature-related offsetting.
  • There is a conflict between agriculture and tourism businesses in islands and other rural areas, which can lower availability of specific renewable elements (e.g., biomass)

Social

  • Rural and local energy communities can work together to support and create micro-grids and install renewable technologies through community action and crowdfunding, enabling access to renewable energy in remote locations.
  • Peer-to-peer learning and community support for education
  • Legacy on farm – longer term view to support future generations with more renewable energy generation (even in some tenancies)
  • The energy and agricultural regimes compete for use of agricultural land, both functionally (food vs. fuel) and in terms of control (farmer vs. corporations)
  • Negative public opinion of large-scale renewable technology installations
  • Issues around access to equity, especially for farmers in lower socio-economic bands
  • Potential at govt level to say that things are coming rather than farms fighting the battle – collective top-down support.
  • Contract/short term tenant farms less likely to be able to implement renewable technologies due to contract and communication difficulty with landlords.
  • Land ownership – corporations/wealthy people buying up land for carbon sequestration and ‘CSR’ purposes.
  • Competing land pressures in central Scotland – e.g., housing; other pressures
  • Changing uses of land not always in favour of tenant farmers

Technical

  • Many renewable energy technologies are already widely used across Scotland
  • Poor current electricity distribution network access, especially in rural and remote areas.
  • Electricity network constraints – there is a limit to scalability.
  • New or rapidly evolving technology (hydrogen, robotics) create an investment risk, due to deployment issues or a risk of obsolescence.
  • People are cautious based on experiences of ‘cowboy builders’

Legal

  • Small scale installations and microgrids can benefit from permitted development rights where planning permission can be granted without the need for local planning authority applications.
  • Environmental permitting – driving change for reduction of emissions on site.
  • While important for other reasons, planning requirements or restrictions in certain areas (e.g., designated sites, AONBs) can hamper the uptake of renewable technologies (especially wind turbines and solar panels).
  • Licenses for water abstraction (e.g., for hydropower) can hamper uptake.
  • Land ownership and tenancies can cause disputes over implementing renewable technology, leading to slow uptake.
  • Land ownership issue – wider engagement needed to implement tech if tenanted (expand) – access etc.
  • General binding rules – restrictions on water use (e.g., AD)
  • Cleaner air for Scotland strategy – combustion technology (e.g., bioenergy) barrier
  • Inheritance tax considerations for changes in agricultural land use for some renewable energy production types.

Environmental

  • Changing climatic and environmental conditions due to climate change can positively affect the capacity renewable energy techs (e.g., increased sun exposure from hotter and drier summers)
  • Many farms have the resources (e.g., agricultural residue) or space (e.g., marginal land) available to support biomass energy production and the installation of other technologies.
  • Positive environmental and biodiversity benefits from bioenergy crops in comparison to managed grasslands or arable crops (relative to the ecosystem)
  • There are competing land pressures in central Scotland (e.g., housing/ afforestation). Additionally, renewable energy projects normally require large amounts of space to capture the energy in wind, water, or solar radiation in sufficient quantity to be commercially viable.
  • Changing climatic and environmental conditions due to climate change can negatively affect the capacity renewable energy techs by increasing uncertainty in weather conditions.
  • Need to identify the negative environmental impacts on installing (e.g., installing wind turbines on peat land)
  • Intensification of land for biomass production previously not used for cropping (e.g., land use change from grasslands to bioenergy crops)
  • Negative environmental and biodiversity implications from the growth of bioenergy crops (relative to the ecosystem)

If you require the report in an alternative format such as a Word document, please contact info@climatexchange.org.uk or 0131 651 4783.

© The University of Edinburgh

Prepared by Ricardo Energy & Environment on behalf of ClimateXChange, The University of Edinburgh. All rights reserved.

While every effort is made to ensure the information in this report is accurate, no legal responsibility is accepted for any errors, omissions, or misleading statements. The views expressed represent those of the author(s), and do not necessarily represent those of the host institutions or funders.

info@climatexchange.org.uk

+44(0)131 651 4783

@climatexchange_

www.climatexchange.org.uk


  1. Update to the Climate Change Plan – Background Information and Key Issues | Scottish Parliament



  2. Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan (www.gov.scot)



  3. Just Transition Commission: A National Mission for a fairer, greener Scotland – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)



  4. How Does Climate Change Affect Agriculture? | Heifer International



  5. Climate change and agriculture – POST (parliament.uk)



  6. https://naei.beis.gov.uk/



  7. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-local-authority-and-regional-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics-2005-to-2020



  8. Gas from supply network



  9. ‘Other’ fuels are aggregated in the NAEI publication and include coal, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and oils for static and mobile machinery.



  10. https://www.gov.scot/publications/results-scottish-agricultural-census-june-2021/documents/



  11. Local authority to region lookup in Appendix A, section 9.1.2



  12. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/64a68222c531eb000c64ff3e/employment-based-energy-consumption-local-authority-mapping-2021.pdf



  13. Dairy Farm Energy – Teagasc | Agriculture and Food Development Authority



  14. Agriculture-Energy-Efficiency.pdf (windows.net)



  15. Ten Week Report (climatexchange.org.uk)



  16. CEMA_decarbonising_agriculture_27-04-22.pdf (cema-agri.org)



  17. Decarbonisation of mobile agricultural machinery in Scotland – an evidence review (climatexchange.org.uk)



  18. DESNZ PAT Summer 2023 Energy infrastructure and energy sources (publishing.service.gov.uk)



  19. Public has positive views of solar farms, finds government survey • Solar Energy UK



  20. The public’s perception of run-of-the-river hydropower across Europe – ScienceDirect



  21. Scottish Energy Statistics Hub



  22. Solar ticks the boxes for Scottish producer – Farmers Weekly



  23. Huge solar park planned for Scottish farmland – Farmers Weekly



  24. National Farmers Union, 2017. Electric tractors by 2020? Available at: A review of advanced vehicle technology in the agricultural sector



  25. Transport Scotland: £28 million for zero emission heavy duty vehicles



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  27. Contracts for Difference (CfD)



  28. Scottish Power: Smart Export Guarantee



  29. Fielding and Matthews (2014) Review of implications of land use change on climate change mitigation and adaptation, ClimateXChange. Available at: https://www.climatexchange.org.uk/media/1471/review_of_the_climate_implications_of_land_use_change_.pdf



  30. Small Scale Renewables – Farming for a Better Climate



  31. The Renewable Energy Centre – Wind Power



  32. RHI0015 – Evidence on Renewable Heat Incentive in Great Britain (parliament.uk)



  33. RHI monthly deployment data: March 2023 (Quarterly edition) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)



  34. Biomass Strategy 2023 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)



  35. Bioenergy – Renewable and low carbon energy – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)



  36. climatexchange.org.uk/media/5276/cxc-comparing-scottish-bioenergy-supply-and-demand-in-the-context-of-net-zero-targets-february-2022.pdf



  37. Heat in Buildings Strategy – achieving net zero emissions in Scotland’s buildings – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)



  38. Heat pump installation installed to dry 30,000 tonnes of grain – Calibrate Energy Engineering



  39. Assuming that the UK grid electricity emissions factor is used for GHG reporting purposes. However, if the NAEI Point of Use electricity emissions factor is used for GHG reporting purposes the saving between heat pumps and direct electrification would be identical due to zero carbon emissions being attributed to electricity consumption in Scotland.



  40. Statistics: Energy consumption by sector – Scottish Renewables



  41. Scottish Energy Statistics Hub



  42. Scottish Energy Statistics Hub – Pipeline renewable capacity by planning stage



  43. Farm energy case study: Small-scale hydro, Dumfries – Farmers Weekly



  44. Hydro power scheme offers farming potential – Farmers Weekly



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  47. Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK – Climate Change Committee (theccc.org.uk)



  48. Comparing Scottish bioenergy supply and demand in the context of Net-Zero targets (climatexchange.org.uk)



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  50. Bioenergy Crops Better For Biodiversity Than Food-Based Agriculture | University of Southampton



  51. Small Islands Energy System Overview (hie.co.uk)



  52. Renewable energy in Scotland (parliament.uk)



  53. DG Connection Guides (dcode.org.uk)



  54. Renewables and Crofting: A Perspective on the Challenges for Developers from WJM



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  56. Solar Panels in Scotland 2023 | Costs, Grants & Benefits (theecoexperts.co.uk)



  57. Renewable Energy Towards Net Zero – Sustainability Factsheet (bankofscotland.co.uk)



  58. Includes laws and regulations regarding product recycling and economic growth or any government initiative to stipulate Circular Economy drivers.



  59. How the UK public feels about renewable energy (climatexchange.org.uk)



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  67. SSEN generation connection



  68. Grid connection charges in Scotland ‘must be reviewed as matter of urgency’ – Business Insider



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Greenhouse gas emissions across the agricultural supply chain need to reduce in order to meet the targets in Scotland’s Climate Change Plan update. As the majority of emissions in the agricultural supply chain are generated at farm level, farmers face pressure to take mitigating action. At the same time, commercial operators are expecting an increased demand for low-carbon goods from consumers, including food. Detailed evidence on the extent and nature of private sector drivers of on-farm climate action is lacking.

This research provides an overview of the evidence for private sector drivers for climate change action in Scottish agriculture. The researchers undertook a rapid evidence review of the available literature in combination with stakeholder interviews.

Summary of findings

The main driver placed on Scottish agricultural producers from the private sector is to complete baseline carbon audits of their current operations. Although this is as yet not widespread, it is common in some sub-sectors and is anticipated to rapidly spread across the whole industry.

  • There is little evidence to suggest that the process of carbon audits and action plan creation has led to significant emissions reduction in Scottish agriculture at the producer level.
  • The evidence strongly suggests that farmers respond primarily to policy and market signals, although the balance between these varies across sectors.
  • Consumer preferences shape the food products that retailers, wholesalers and processors market and sell. Consumer demand for low carbon goods is set to increase, and so decarbonising value chains will be part of staying in business in a competitive market.
  • The UK retail industry is largely consolidated into a handful of large organisations, which possesses significant leverage over producers. Industry expectations suggest that mitigation demands placed on upstream suppliers will increase rapidly.

Further details on the findings can be found in the report attached.

If you require the report in an alternative format such as a Word document, please contact info@climatexchange.org.uk or 0131 651 4783.

The Scottish Government is committed to support the transition to net zero, whilst restoring and regenerating biodiversity. Organic farming practices have the potential to deliver to both agendas.

This rapid evidence assessment and stakeholder engagement assesses the evidence for organic farming practices that contribute to the Biodiversity Strategy targets, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and making Scottish agricultural systems more resilient to the projected climatic conditions of 2045.

The review assessed greenhouse gas emissions in terms of both a reduction in emissions and an increase in soil carbon.

Key findings

The stakeholders emphasised that organic farming is a holistic approach to farming the land, and benefits arise from the combination of management practices adopted. The literature review supported the holistic nature of organic farming.

The research found that:

  • Organic farming practices offer benefits to biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, soil carbon, and how organic farming practices might help farmers adapt to a changing climate in Scotland over the next two decades to 2045.
  • The inclusion of specific measures such as leys and cover crops, organic bulky materials and crop residue management in organic systems tends to increase the soil carbon.
  • Organic systems are typically more diverse than conventional systems.

Conclusions

The wider adoption of organic farming practices will benefit the environment. This would require support for the industry to transition and maintain the system. Advice and training would be required.

Agriculture accounts for around 24% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, of which methane accounts for around 44%. A significant proportion results from generation of manure and slurries in livestock production.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that generates a methane-rich biogas from resources such as manure and food waste. When carried out under controlled conditions, the biogas can be captured and converted to energy for heat and electricity.

The Scottish Government has recognised the potential for farmyard slurry to contribute to renewable and bioenergy ambitions. The 2021 Bioenergy Update recognised a need to examine the potential for a Scottish market for digestate – the nutrient-rich material produced by anaerobic digestion, which can be a good fertiliser. Having a market for digestate would remove constraints on greater production of biomethane.

This report examines the potential to reduce emissions by processing agricultural wastes through anaerobic digestion plants. The focus is on agricultural wastes that consist mainly of animal manures and slurries, which are highly underutilised resources.

Conclusions

  • Anaerobic digestion is an important tool in the fight against climate change. However, manures and slurries do not yield high volumes of biogas and the latter typically has a low dry matter content. This means it is uneconomical to transport it to the large-scale AD plants that currently exist.
  • On-farm plants are particularly suitable for farms generating liquid slurries throughout the year, such as dairy farms. Such plants can therefore operate all year round to produce biogas and/or electricity consistently.
  • Manure and slurry-only farm-scale solutions are available, but there has been little uptake in recent years as policies have driven economies of scale. Although solutions exist, there is low visibility of farms running, in a profitable way, easy-to-operate micro-scale solutions that would be appropriate for individual farms.

For further information, including the findings, please download the report.

If you require the report in an alternative format such as a Word document, please contact info@climatexchange.org.uk or 0131 651 4783.

Transformation in agricultural land management is critical to achieving Scottish Government’s aims of mitigating climate change, addressing the biodiversity crisis and achieving a just transition for land and agriculture.

Providing advice and collaborative learning opportunities through the Farm Advisory Service (FAS) is the key mechanism to deliver behaviour change in the agricultural sector. The Scottish Government is seeking to better integrate the FAS into an agricultural knowledge and innovation system (AKIS) for Scotland. AKIS is a system of innovation that links organisations, institutions, incentives and funding.

This research comprised an evidence review and options appraisal for an agricultural knowledge and innovation system for Scotland. The report presents 35 options that the research considered in detail. The options presented are across six themes:

  • Creating a unified AKIS
  • Regionalisation and specialisation
  • Support peer-to-peer learning and farmer collaboration
  • Promote diversity and generational renewal in the agricultural sector
  • Digital opportunities and upskilling
  • AKIS capacity building

Conclusion

Creating a responsive, inclusive AKIS for Scotland requires carving new pathways between actors and rethinking service provision. The Farm Advisory Service has had very positive reviews to date. Pursuing many of the options identified in this report would represent a major re-organisation and re-allocation of resources. Detailed planning and consultation would be required to ensure that new approaches add value. Expansion of supports to cohorts in addition to farmers and crofters (eg foresters, community land owners, new landowners primarily focused on carbon offsetting or rewilding) will require reorientation of resources or increased investment. A collaborative approach across policy areas would be required to achieve an effective, system-wide transformation.

For further details, please download the report.

If you require the report in an alternative format, such as a Word document, please contact info@climatexchange.org.uk or 0131 651 4783.

Farmers are already experiencing changing weather patterns and extreme events due to climate change and consideration of adaptation actions is very timely.

This report maps the major agricultural activities in Scotland and examines Scotland’s rainfall and temperature projections up to 2030, 2050 and 2100 using UK Climate Projection 18 data, to create a picture of current agricultural activity and future climate.

The study located regions that have a similar climate to what Scotland expects in the future, to identify agricultural products that could be adopted or expanded in Scotland. It also explored published evidence to examine the options for climate change adaptation for farmers in Scotland.

The evidence review identified around 50 adaptation actions suitable for Scottish agriculture that would be feasible in all regions of Scotland before 2030 and are also applicable to 2050 and 2100.

Key findings
  • Scotland is predicted to have wetter and warmer winters and drier and warmer summers, alongside a higher frequency of extreme events.
  • The climatically regions in the world comparable to Scotland are limited to northern Europe, parts of western Canada, southern Alaska, southern Chile and Auckland Island.
  • Relevant cropping activity could be e.g. sugar beet, apples, oats and hops.
  • Livestock are more adaptable than cropping, so it will be more important to adapt management and improve both natural/green and hard infrastructure, such as shade, shelterbelts and buildings, than completely change breeds and/or species.
  • Proposed adaptation actions include adjusting planting and harvesting dates, selecting crop types resilient to extreme weather, and adjusting pasture and soil management practices.
  • Adaptive actions include knowledge transfer and management changes, such as advice provision, early weather warning systems and farmer co-operatives. There are also cross-over actions that support mitigation and adaptation in agriculture and can support biodiversity, such as changes to fertiliser application frequency to improve both inorganic and organic fertiliser use efficiency, improved soil management to better respond to wetter and drier conditions and use of agroforestry.

The report recommends that it is important to act now to increase Scotland’s adaptive capacity, particularly as in the past year Scotland has experienced extreme storms, extreme heat and extended dry periods.

Further details on the findings and a full list of recommendations is available in the report.

Scotland is a peat-rich nation. Healthy peatlands deliver a wide range of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, carbon storage and a specialised biodiversity.

However, much of Scotland’s peat resource is damaged: eroding, drained or converted to other land uses. The Scottish Government has made a significant commitment to restore peatland areas that have been damaged.

Peatlands restored to a functioning ecosystem can better withstand a changing climate and also provide vital flood risk protection. It takes time for the benefits of restoration to take effect.

This paper explores how we can monitor success. Long-term monitoring is important to track this recovery and prompt intervention when necessary.

Despite significant investment in peatland restoration we still have a lot to learn, particularly on the best techniques to use, and in understanding how long the process takes.