agriculture and renewable energies

Agriculture and renewable energies: An essential lever for energy transition

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Ademe unveils an unprecedented study that reinforces the place of agriculture at the heart of the development of renewable energies. Agriculture today produces as much renewable energy as it consumes conventional energy. Renewable energies are also an important source of income for farmers, which in some cases can generate up to €15,000 per year in additional income.
 
Por Nicolas Hulot, Minister of State, Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition "This study proves once again that the energy transition is a reality and an opportunity for farmers. Renewable energy means jobs in the territories, it is an additional income for farmers, it is a plus for the planet. With the new multiannual energy programme, we are going to further accelerate and ensure that every farmer who wishes to do so can commit to solar, wind or biogas".
 
The agricultural sector, a major producer of renewable energy
 
In 2015, the agricultural sector contributed to the production of 20% of national RE. With 4.5 Million Tons of Oil Equivalent (Mtoe), farms contribute as much to RE production as they consume non-renewable energy.
 
This contribution of farms to the energy transition takes several forms:
- Self-consumption of heat and electricity to reduce the energy bill of the farm (geothermal, solar thermal, photovoltaic, methanisation);
- The production and sale of biomass for the production of renewable energies (crops for biofuels and methanisation, wood for heat);
- The sale of electricity or gas directly on the networks (photovoltaic, methanisation);
- The provision of space for solar panel or wind turbine installations.
According to the study estimates, by 2015 more than 50,000 farms (15% of the farms) are already participating in RE production in a significant way. The study estimates that this contribution could be multiplied by 2 by 2030 and could reach 15.8 Mtoe in 2050, thanks to the development of methanisation, photovoltaic and wind energy in particular.
 
RE: a plus for farmers' income
 
According to the study, in 2015 the contribution of the agricultural sector to RE production represents a turnover of 1.4 billion euros, i.e. the equivalent of 2% of the turnover of French agriculture.
This turnover is mainly driven by biofuels, for €1 billion, followed by photovoltaics, for €109 million, methanisation and biomass heat, for €88 and €85 million respectively, and, to a lesser extent, €34 million for the provision of space for the installation of wind turbines.
These figures, which are still limited compared to the potential of the agricultural sector as a whole, nevertheless generate a significant impact for the farmers involved in these projects: the development of RE contributes to diversifying their income, for amounts ranging from a few thousand euros in reduced energy bills to more than €15,000 in additional income. These figures should be put into perspective with the average agricultural income in 2015, estimated at €25,400 for all sectors.
The study identified more than fifty opportunities offered to farmers according to their sector, the characteristics of their farm, their financial investment possibilities or their willingness to get involved in project governance.
 
Local animation for projects integrated into farms and territories
 
RE is a new and fast-developing sector for the agricultural world. They represent an economic opportunity that must necessarily be organised and supported. In view of the prospects, the study recommends the strengthening of local activities focused on the provision of technical, administrative and financial advice, as well as support in setting up projects. The objectives are to accelerate the dissemination of RE and to enable agriculture to be a real actor of the energy transition.
In addition, collective RE projects integrated into the territories contribute to the appropriation of RE by citizens, which favours their deployment.
 
Every year, ADEME publishes a survey on the social representations of climate change. In 2017, a focus on farmers reveals the importance of these issues for the profession:
- 89% of farmers surveyed believe that climate change is having an impact on their farming activity
- 84% think they have to change their farming activity
- 74% believe they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.
- 49% are considering RE projects
 
 

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