Solar making sense for vegetable growers

Moss Brook Growers, a local organic vegetable producer, working with Unicorn Grocery and GMCVO,was looking to commission a 15kW solar array and needed help understanding possible returns, as well as energy and carbon savings. Funded through the The Co-operative Group's Co-operative Enterprise Hub, we were asked to help the team answer these and other questions.

The proposed location of the panels was the roof of a barn next to the field where Moss Brook Growers cultivate crops then supplied to Unicorn Grocery. The clean electricity would principally be used to run an irrigation system, which is a good match as when you most need to water plants – in the summer on sunny dry days – the electricity generated from the PV system is at its highest.

Looking month by month during summer, around 70-80% of the electricity generated is likely to be used on site. The results of the analysis vary depending on the PV system adopted but could provide a return from the Government Feed in Tariff of around £53,000 from an initial investment of £28,000. In addition, there are significant savings from buying less electricity, potentially over £25,000.

As part of the work, we developed a spreadsheet tool and are happy for others to use it under a creative common license – just cite us if you do. Link to be inserted shortly.

2015 update: Solar panels in place and generating clean green electricity.