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Vegetable Grower Benefits From Solar Panels

We like to keep our readers informed about any interesting solar panel installations so we thought that you might like to hear about a business that grow vegetables that have had many solar panels installed.

Alan Bartlett and Sons grow carrots and parsnips
(image credit: Salim Virji)

Alan Bartlett and Sons operate a parsnips and carrots business where they grow, harvest, clean, pack and transport them to be sold by the likes of Lidl and Tesco. In fact, 70% of their business is carrots and the balance parsnips with 75% of their produce going to Tesco. These vegetables are grown on 3,600 acres of land.

The business can claim to have the biggest roof mounted solar panel system that is privately owned in the UK. In March 2013, the company had in excess of 4,000 solar photovoltaic panels installed at its Chatteris, Cambridgeshire site. The solar panels have a capacity of 1.2MW.

They have over 3,000 sq m of space for fridges so use a significant amount of electricity twenty-four hours a day. They also use four hydro-coolers to maintain the temperature at 3C to 5C that extends the carrots and parsnips shelf life.

The business is benefiting from both the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) and the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) scheme. It is estimated that the first year will see the solar panel system provide £180,000 to £185,000 of income and reduced utility bills with this more than covering the first year’s loan repayments of £145,000 as the business borrowed 80% of the installation costs. At the present time, the solar panels provide about 20% of their energy use.

Apparently, at the moment, the business are not permitted to return any surplus energy to the National Grid as there is a wind farm close by so, on both a windy and sunny day there is apprehension that too much energy could be put back into the grid.

We will continue to keep you informed of any other interesting solar panel developments.

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