Bernard Matthews’ ‘big green plan’ on course for 2020 target

The UK’s largest turkey producer has turned to RenEnergy as it adopts solar energy in its strive for a carbon footprint of zero by 2020

Bernard Matthews (BM) has broken ground on the next phase of its large-scale carbon cutting exercise which will see 50 percent generation on each of 11 sites via solar energy, cutting the company’s carbon footprint by more than 1,200 tonnes a year.

The largest turkey producer in the UK is aiming to have reduced its carbon footprint to zero by 2020; a goal it hopes to achieve in part with the installation of 2.5MW of solar PV across 11 farms in Norfolk on the east coast of the country.  

The key driver in the decision was ensuring a greener future for the company, but the greatly reduced running costs are a welcome bonus according to Stuart Read, the company’s Procurement Category Manager. He has revealed that BM has opted for solar “as a safe, non-contentious, low maintenance and low intrusion option that suits our specific energy needs. We will benefit from lower operating costs for years to come”.

“We are hoping to reduce our carbon footprint by 100 percent by 2020. This project is going a long way to meeting that target”, Read continued.

RenEnergy has been contracted to finance, design, supply and install 19 roof and ground mounted arrays, consisting of 10,000 PV panels paired with 110 inverters, generating an estimated 2.3 million kWh of energy a year.

“The technical challenges we have encountered are no different than any number of agricultural projects we have completed in the past, but operationally working around the critical timetables of numerous active poultry farms has been tough,” explained Damian Baker, Managing Director of RenEnergy.

“Fortunately we have been aided by the excellent support of the farm managers, allowing us to minimise any onsite disturbance to the workers or birds.”

Following the switch on of the first system in late March, BM have seen a reduction in grid electricity of 30 percent, with the site operating self-sufficiently for significant periods of the day. At this one site this saves a whole year’s worth of CO2 emissions from a family car every two weeks.

Phase two of development is following on from the successful installation of 229 biomass boilers and two large-scale solar farms totalling 11MW that formed the first phase of the big green plan.

RenEnergy, who offer a range of renewable technologies to customers across the East of England and South Africa, has been working in conjunction with a London based funder to deliver the project. The ground mount frame design is bespoke; designed specifically for RenEnergy by Wymondham-based firm Hi-Span. The proprietary frame ensures maximum use of the available space.

The installations will use ReneSola PV panels and inverters from the industry-leading Austrian manufacturer, Fronius.

Baker concluded: "Design was key, and was carried out in conjunction with Bernard Matthews agriculture team to get the correct size system to ensure as much on-site usage as possible. Maximising usage year-on-year provides a higher return and increases reliability of the system.

“It’s fantastic to work on such a pivotal project with a high-profile, forward thinking organisation like Bernard Matthews. They have recognised the inherent financial and environmental benefits of renewable energy, and are leading the way for other businesses to follow.”