We have been very aware of our growing energy consumption across the business over the past decade, both from an environmental point of view, but also from a business perspective, as wholesale fuel and energy prices continue to rise year on year. So in December 2011 we completed the first of two solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on our grain store roof amounting to 42kw.
Following the success of the first scheme, we installed a further 17kw in March 2012 giving a total installed capacity of 59kw.
Our current annual electricity use on the farm, including all farming, commercial and residential activity, extends to approximately 120,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) per annum, with peak consumption being at harvest when the grain drying and cleaning plant is working flat out. Our generation from the two PV arrays is approximately 50,000kwh per annum, nearly 42% of our annual requirements.
The particular benefit of using PV is the higher production of energy during the summer months when our drying and cleaning facilities demand so much of the energy generated. Importantly this has helped to reduce our exposure to rising energy markets, but crucially it has helped to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and therefore reduced our carbon footprint.
Renewable energy requires a multi-faceted approach to ensure long term energy security, so we are currently looking at the viability of further renewable energy technologies, including: