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Solar installation on cattle farm and abattoir returns double the estimated savings and halved the payback.

By ineco | 6th October 2023

“There has arguably never been a better time for NFU members to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.” 

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, NFU Chief Advisor, Renewable Energy and Climate Change, March 2022.

A cattle farm and abattoir in the North of England, found they were nearing their maximum grid capacity and facing a sizeable bill for upgrading their electricity supply. Rather than spending money on upgrading their electricity supply they looked to invest in Solar to reduce their grid consumption and generate cleaner, cheaper electricity on the farm. Two years on they are generating 4% more power than forecast and the value of that power has doubled since the energy crisis.

The farm contacted Ineco Energy on recommendation, to understand how Solar could benefit them and mitigate paying out on grid upgrades. The cold store’s consumption was peaking in the summer months when the refrigeration units worked hardest to maintain lower temperatures. This fit well with the generation profile of solar PV, which peaks during the summer months matching with the site’s electricity demand.

Ineco engineered a system that spanned four different roofs to maximise generation, providing 31% of its annual electricity demand. The system benefits from SolarEdge module level optimisation which ensures the system will generate to its full potential and the performance of every pair of panels can be monitored.

Since the system was installed 2 years ago it has generated 4% more electricity than forecast. Which, coupled with rising energy crisis prices means the facility has saved itself over £150,000 a year (at 30p /kWh), up from the £75,000 that was predicted (at 15p /kWh). In real terms the payback period of the investment has dropped from 5 years to just 2.5 years!

As a Great British beef producer, the farm faces ongoing pressures from the public and customers to reduce carbon emissions. This solar system is saving the facility 161 tonnes of carbon a year, and 3,575 tonnes across its lifetime (25 years).

A recent report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) concluded that, if all farms which could install solar did so, they could reap some £1.1bn of financial benefits within a two-year period from 2023. The benefits would primarily arise from reduced energy bills, through the avoidance of expensive gas and gas-fired electricity, and through the ability for farmers to sell energy back to the grid, providing an additional revenue stream.

Despite some claims, ground-mounted solar panels currently cover just 0.1% of all land in the UK which is less than the area taken up by golf courses. There are huge opportunities to use the thousands of farm buildings and land across the country to provide cleaner, cheaper and renewable electricity.

Angus Rose, Director and co-founder of Ineco Energy said: “Farmers have long been harvesting food to provide the energy we need for our bodies. Solar PV provides an opportunity for farmers to harvest energy from the sun to provide the energy we need for our electrified world. The UK needs to ensure that we don’t get left behind some of our foreign counterparts who are embracing the opportunity that the clean energy revolution provides and doing so at a greater size and scale than UK. Solar is the cheapest form of electricity in history and many farmers are now getting in contact to benefit from solar on buildings and land to become more self-sufficient, ideally consuming what they generate and or exporting any excess power back to the grid.”

Ineco Energy are a trusted partner of NFU Energy in delivering Renewable Energy Solutions to NFU Members. Based at the same site as NFU HQ in Stoneleigh Park, some readers may be familiar with the site’s Farmer’s Fayre farm shop which features an Ineco Energy solar system.