Clean energy has become the second largest source of income for farms in the United Kingdom, according to a recent survey.

A third of English and Welsh farms are generating 200 megawatts of power — enough to support 40,000 households — using solar, wind or biogas technology, the survey found.

The survey found that one in five farmers will be producing clean electricity and one in six farmers will have solar photovoltaic systems by the middle of this year. If this trend continues, 15 percent of the UK’s electricity could be generated by agriculture by the end of the decade.

“The NFU has been encouraging farmers and growers nationwide across all sectors to diversify into renewable energy for the past few years, but we are amazed at this level of uptake already,” said NFU chief renewable energy adviser Jonathan Scurlock. “The potential of land-based renewable energy to support profitable farming, while contributing to energy security and the low-carbon economy, is evidently much greater than we ever imagined.”

The data was derived from a survey of more than 400 farmers conducted by the UK Farm Energy Service (NFU) and NatWest Bank. About 20 percent of the surveyed farmers are using solar energy, 6 percent are using wind energy and 4 percent are using biogas.

More than half of farmers included in the study identified the complex renewable energy permitting process as the biggest barrier to getting clean energy projects up and running.

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