Fruit farm Place UK has sought to trim its “significantly” increasing energy bills by installing a 200kWp ground-mount solar array at its 900-acre farm.
The company invested £205,000 in the system and tasked installers EvoEnergy with fitting it at its premises in East Anglia and is now saving around £30,000 per year.
Place UK has doubled in size over the last six years and has had to add energy-intensive technologies – including two blast-freeze tunnels, cold storage and dry goods stores – in order to facilitate its 24-hour operations.
This has sent the company’s energy consumption soaring to 3 million kWh of electricity each year.
The farm already had an 80kWp solar array fitted to a rooftop however James Starling, finance director at Place UK, said the company’s “green credentials” and energy costs were important to them.
“We’d looked at other renewables options but wind turbines weren’t right for us and AD plants were too expensive. PV was still a significant investment but it fitted the bill as an affordable option – and given that we knew we’d use all of the electricity ourselves it also mitigated against some of the risk of future energy price rises.
“When our factory’s not running our cold stores still use a base load of energy. With the extra PV that base load can now be powered entirely from solar power and that’s a real breakthrough for us. Our energy supply is more secure and our carbon footprint’s been reduced. The whole project ran extremely well from start to finish,” Starling said.
The solar array is located 100 yards from the farm’s mains power supply and comprises 800 Sharp 250Wp panels fitted by EvoEnergy. Peter Alder, head of sales and marketing at EvoEnergy, said Place UK’s business model “lends itself perfectly to being able to reap the rewards of solar”.
EvoEnergy also installed an export power controller with automation technology in order to work around export power limits put into place by Place UK’s local DNO in East Anglia which otherwise would’ve cut the array’s size to 110kWp.