Many farms and other agricultural related businesses are coming under increased pressure from their supply chain to become greener by finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
One such business is North East daffodil and seed potato co-operative Grampian Growers, who has turned to solar PV to generate its own supply of clean electricity. The Montrose based co-operative grow, store and process daffodil bulbs, flowers and seed potatoes mainly for export to America, mainland Europe and North Africa.
“The decision to install solar PV is part of an overall business strategy to make the co-operative more environmentally friendly. A key part of this was to look at ways to reduce the amount of carbon created through our site activities”, explained Managing Director, Mark Clark. “We were also keen to take control of our energy costs, by reducing the amount of electricity we buy in. PV presented us with the perfect opportunity to do just that, by utilising the available roof space on the site” added Production Manager, Fergus Kelly.
The 593 panel 148.25kWp PV array was installed over two large south facing composite roofs by Forster Energy, Scotland’s leading supplier of roof-top solar PV for farmers. An initial 50kWp array was installed in June to secure a higher feed in tariff rate. A further 98.25kWp was added in September following approval of planning permission.
Constraints on grid capacity place a limit on the amount of electricity Grampian Growers can export. Therefore a special export control system was installed to regulate the amount of electricity that is fed into the grid. “Increased pressure on grid capacity has led to a growing number of instances of export restrictions being placed on renewable energy generators. For this reason export control systems like this are becoming more widely used” explained Stephen Ward, Forster’s Design Engineer.
The new PV system is projected to have paid for itself within seven years and is set to provide a 19% annual return on the initial investment through energy savings and feed in and export tariff payments. “We are already seeing the benefit of generating our own electricity supply” said Mark. “In October 2014 the first full month of generation the system has performed slightly over Forster’s projections”.