Waitrose’s Leckford Estate farm near Stockbridge is now generating its own renewable electricity thanks to a 186kWp solar array installed on the roof of an agricultural shed.

The retailer uses the 4,000-acre estate to grow its own produce, including milk, poultry, mushrooms, apples, pears, rapeseed oil, sparkling english wine, cider and apple juice. The new solar project forms part of the company’s push to lessen its carbon footprint.

The solar installation was designed and will be managed by Hampshire-based solar company, Hive Energy with global developer, Martifer handed installation responsibilities. The solar installation was supplied at no cost to Leckford Estate. Instead, the estate will buy the electricity generated under a power purchase agreement (PPA,) with Hive recouping its investment costs through associated feed-in tariff revenue.

The solar array is fitted to one of the estate’s dairy sheds. The array’s generation profile will match closely with the estate’s consumption profile, as the solar panels will help run the lighting and milking machines for the 600-cow herd.

It is predicted that the 186kWp array is capable of generating enough energy to power the equivalent of 40 local homes annually. In addition, the operation of the solar scheme will negate the emission of over 7 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Andrew Hoad, head of the Leckford Estate, said; “Waitrose has made a firm commitment to reduce its carbon emissions and installing solar panels at the Leckford Estate farm is just one of the ways in which we’re trying to do this.

“Making our own renewable energy on-site is also a great investment for our business. It means our milking parlour has a significantly lower carbon footprint.”

Hive Energy’s commercial director, Tim Purbrick, added: “The next time customers drink Waitrose milk, they can enjoy it even more knowing that it was produced with the power of the sun.

“We’ve seen a real surge at the moment in switched-on companies like Waitrose wanting to use solar energy to power their business. It not only makes them greener but is also a cheaper, more stable source of energy. This has got to be good for the environment and for British business too”.