For centuries farmers have made a living raising livestock or growing crops and from the late 1800s through 1930s, farming was heavily reliant on wind power to grind grain, pump water and, to a lesser degree, generate power for self-sufficiency. In today’s world, the economy has changed and supermarket shopping has made it more difficult for farmers to earn a living by traditional methods. This has caused farmers to think differently about the way in which they use their land. So, because of the growth in demand for wind and solar energy, farmers can now make income using agricultural land to house wind farms or use a wind turbine to reduce their energy costs.

Because almost 75% of land in the UK is farmland, it means that there is tremendous potential for the 300,000 farms to earn ‘new money’ which could be up to £50,000 a year by generating electricity from wind energy. Energy costs can be cut for dairy /cattle farmers and for arable farming, can be a means of diversification. Although wind turbines are tall, each one takes up only a small plot of land so that after wind turbine installation, most farmers are still left with 98% of their land to use as they wish.

Wind farms generate renewable, clean energy and with over 1,500 wind farms in the UK many farmers combine growing crops or raising livestock whilst operating wind farms on their land. This immediately reduces the sizes of their electricity bills because they are generating free electricity whilst the wind blows. The other option is that farmers can either lease or sell their land to accommodate wind farms.

A bonus for crop farming is that in a crop area around a wind turbine about the size of three football pitches, the turbulence from a wind turbine moves plants around, allowing sunlight to penetrate deeper into the crop canopy and also providing the plants with a boost of carbon dioxide.
In the evening as the air cools, the stirring of the air by the wind turbine prevents it from drawing moisture and cooling down so quickly around the plants.
The mixing of the air suppresses the formation of dew which in turn, lessens the conditions which encourage the growth of mold, fungus and other pathogens which can affect crops.
Livestock suffer no adverse effects from their proximity to wind turbines and will happily graze along the base of a turbine.

There are various factors to be considered in installing a wind turbine or creating a wind farm. The area should be as wide and open as possible in the prevailing wind direction, with as few obstacles as possible.
The turbines need to be easily accessible for maintenance and repair work and the noise levels need to be calculated so the farm is compatible with the levels of sound stipulated in national legislation. The supplier of the turbine sets the minimum turbine spacing, taking into account the ‘wake’ effect that one turbine can have on others nearby.

Other things such as the wind conditions and landscape features of the location, local/national rules such as on turbine height, noise levels and nature conservation, the risk of extreme events such as earthquakes, how easy it is to transport the turbines to the site and the local availability of cranes will determine the correct type of turbine to be installed.

A 10 MW wind farm can easily be built within two months and a 50 MW wind farm can be built in under six months. The major part of the outlay is the turbine which usually represents about 75% of the total upfront costs. Once the turbine is running, there are only operation and maintenance costs (O&M), which are minimal compared with a gas power plant where O&M is 40-70% of total costs, and the rest of the cost is fuel.