Waitrose dairy farm unveils rooftop solar array

A Waitrose dairy farm in Hampshire is now generating its own renewable energy after installing a 186 KWp solar array on the roof of a milk parlour.

Waitrose’s Leckford Estate farm expects the array to save around 7 tonnes of CO2 annually and provide enough energy to power the equivalent of 40 local houses.

Hampshire solar firm Hive Energy will supply the installation at no upfront cost to Leckford Estate thanks to a power-purchasing agreement. Hive will recoup its investment through revenue from the Feed-in Tariff.

Andrew Hoad, head of the Leckford Estate, said: “Waitrose has made a firm commitment to reduce its carbon emissions and installing solar panels at the Leckford Estate farm is just one of the ways in which we’re trying to do this.

“Making our own renewable energy onsite is also a great investment for our business. It means our milking parlour has a significantly lower carbon footprint.”

Moo-ving forward

The installation marks positive progress for Waitrose parent-company John Lewis, which was forced to reassess its green goals in April after seeing absolute emissions grow by almost 7% last year.

The group’s most recent sustainability report described its previous attempts at onsite generation as “very challenging”.

Commenting on the Leckford Estate project, Hive Energy’s commercial director, Tim Purbrick said: “The next time customers drink Waitrose milk, they can enjoy it even more knowing that it was produced with the power of the sun.

“We’ve seen a real surge at the moment in switched-on companies like Waitrose wanting to use solar energy to power their business. It not only makes them greener but is also a cheaper, more stable source of energy. This has got to be good for the environment and for British business too”.

Rival retailers Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencers have also embraced solar, with rooftop installations on commercial buildings, but the Solar Trade Association has warned the expansion of large-scale rooftop arrays could be hindered by cuts to the Feed-in Tariff.

Brad Allen

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