Wind should be regarded as a new "crop" to be harvested by Westcountry farmers, a major conference on green energy will be told.
RenewableUK – the trade body for the UK wind and marine renewables sector – has brought together industry experts, campaigners and farmers for today's event at Mount Edgcumbe on the banks of the River Tamar in Cornwall.
Titled "Reframing the Conversation", the meeting will focus on how agriculture can exploit wind power to create more sustainable, self-sufficient business and food with a smaller "carbon footprint".
Among the speakers will be well-known broadcaster, food campaigner and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who is later hosting a meal using produce from farmers utilising wind energy.
"Wind power is an exciting and constantly evolving technology with amazing potential and we need to be open-minded and creative when looking at the best ways to produce and use it," Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said. "The idea of seeing it as an additional 'crop' for farmers is an intelligent and timely one, and that's why I'm delighted to be part of this RenewableUK event."
Large, commercial wind farms have been hugely controversial in Devon and Cornwall in recent years, with hundreds of turbines now spanning the landscape. Hundreds more are already at some stage in the planning system.
Across the UK there are more than 20,000 small and medium size wind turbines which are used by farmers and small businesses to create their own sources of power, and reduce their energy bills.
Analysis has shown that two thirds (64%) of small and medium wind turbines are installed on farms with 40% of farmers are now using some form of renewable energy, offsetting their production costs.
A third (30%) of farmers opting to "diversify" into green energy generation are choosing wind turbines.
Paul Cottington, environment adviser for the National Farmer's Union (NFU) in the South West, said about a quarter of the inquiries to the Farm Energy Service were about wind power.
He said: "The NFU strongly endorses farmers diversifying into many kinds of renewable energy which can support profitable agricultural production, with a particular preference for farmer-owned small-to-medium scale projects such as single wind turbines."
Today's event is also being sponsored by energyshare which has an existing network of 1,100 community energy groups across the country.
Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund programme, it is a an online group which supports communities in building social, environmental and financial sustainability in energy.
Today's debate will be addressed by St Austell and Newquay Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert as well as Nicky Conway, principal sustainability advisor at Forum for the Future, and explorer and farmer Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who lives near Bodmin, in North Cornwall.
The following discussion "How do we win the wind debate?" is being chaired by Western Morning News editor Bill Martin.
Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK who will also address today's meeting, said: "Today's Great British Wind Meal highlights just a few of the many British farmers and food producers using wind power to reduce their energy bills, lower their carbon footprint, and in many cases provide a vital source of income.
"The stories showcased here demonstrate how living in one of the windiest nations in Europe is an opportunity to be embraced, providing both economic and environmental prosperity.
"I hope their positive experiences encourage other farmers to take advantage of this home-grown asset."
He said the event was making "a tangible contribution to the UK's clean energy revolution".