Meat firm doubles its solar resources

huge energy gains have persuaded a leading Yorkshire meat supplier to double its capacity to generate power using solar technology.

By harnessing the power of the sun, Yorkshire Dales Meat Company has significantly reduced its electricity bills by using panels which operate during daylight hours. Buoyed by the success of its solar panels at the firm’s base at Mill Close Farm in Bedale, it has decided to install a second 49.82 kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) system 12 months after the first one.

Last year, the company contracted Wakefield-based Investment Renewables to install solar panels on the main roof of its state-of-the-art meat preparation facility.

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Stephen Knox, managing director of Yorkshire Dales Meat Company, said: “We’ve definitely been convinced of the huge benefits for a sizeable rural business like ours using renewable energy from the prospective of reducing running costs but also in terms of reducing any impact on the surrounding environment.

“If we hadn’t been so convinced, we wouldn’t be looking to make further investment into renewable energy.”

Initially, the company looked at wind turbines but after discussions with Investment Renewables and an evaluation of local wind speeds, it was decided that the capital cost against return on investment was not high enough to warrant going ahead.

A family-run catering butchers, Yorkshire Dales Meat Company supplies top UK restaurants, hotels and event venues with high-quality meats as well as ASDA supermarkets throughout Yorkshire with a range of burgers, meatballs and steaks.

Mr Knox said the company prides itself on using natural resources and the introduction of the solar technology had produced far higher annual carbon dioxide displacement figures than he had anticipated.

To complement the energy savings achieved in the last year and reduce the company’s carbon footprint further, Mr Knox said a two and a half acre broadleaved woodland had been planted and a three and a half acre trout lake had been created using a plot adjacent to the meat preparation facility. The company’s eco-friendly credentials are also bolstered by recent innovations to produce a more sustainable packaging solution for its products, using recyclable materials and delivering its products to customers on returnable trays.

Mr Knox claims that the ecological policies the company has in place have resulted in a more ethical and sustainable business, which was able to demonstrate to its customers the positive impact the company’s methods were having on the environment. He hoped that by keeping customers informed about this aspect of the business, other companies would be inspired to take a similar approach by adopting stronger eco-policies.

A range of business benefits for investing in renewable energy technologies are available via the Government’s Green Deal. Firms and residents can request an assessment of their property to identify what improvements can be made and how much money is likely to be saved on the property’s energy bill. Installation work is then carried out by a certified Green Deal provider and a contract is drawn up between the provider and the individual or business to pay off the cost of the fitting through their electricity bill.

The scheme means insulation, heating, draught-proofing and high-tech solutions such as solar panels and wind turbines can be installed without the cost of the work having to be paid up front.

It is also possible to earn money from an energy supplier as a business or household that generates its own electricity, by way of a “Feed-in Tariff”. The energy supplier sets an amount for each unit of electricity generated. Rates vary depending on the size of the system, technology used and when it was installed, and if a certified installer was used.

As well as the generation tariff, it is also possible to sell any surplus units back to the electricity supplier. The “export tariff” currently pays 4.5p per unit of electricity for solar panels provided the application to join the Feed-in Tariff was made on or after August 1 last year.

For more details, visit www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures.