Turkey farming and food production firm Bernard Matthews has bolstered its solar PV portfolio with the addition of 2.5MW of capacity across 11 of its farms in East Anglia.

The new farms are part of the company’s ‘Big Green Plan’ which is aimed at making the business entirely self-sufficient from renewable energy generation by next year and carbon neutral by 2020.

The second phase of Bernard Matthews’ green plan is now underway after the company completed two solar farms with a combined capacity of 10.1MW in Suffolk, and is in the process of installing nine wind turbines across Norfolk and Suffolk.

To date Bernard Matthews has raised more than £100 million of investment from a number of green energy investors and company chief executive Rob Burnett said sustainability had become “central” to its long-term business strategy.

“We’re already generating a large proportion of our energy needs from renewable sources including solar, wind, waste and biomass and are well placed to be generating 100% of our electricity sustainably by 2016.

“Our Big Green Plan is ambitious and will require everyone in the business to work together to achieve these tough targets. But for the business to remain sustainable in the future we need to ensure we become more efficient in the way we use energy,” he added.

The company has contracted renewable energy firm RenEnergy to finance, design, supply and install a total of 19 rooftop and ground-mounted arrays at Bernard Matthews sites across East Anglia which are aimed to generate up to 50% of each site’s total electricity demand.

Ground was broken on the second phase of the project this month and RenEnergy expect to install circa 10,000 PV panels across the sites.

“The technical challenges we have encountered are no different than any number of agricultural projects we have completed in the past, but operationally working around the critical timetables of numerous active poultry farms has been tough,” RenEnergy MD Damian Baker said.

“Design was key, and was carried out in conjunction with Bernard Matthews agriculture team to get the correct size system to ensure as much on-site usage as possible. Maximising usage year-on-year provides a higher return and increases reliability of the system, he added.