The firm, which grows, packs and distributes a wide variety of vegetables, teamed up with a specialist in the area, Renewable Solutions UK, to make the installation, which it also expects to reduce CO2 emissions by half a tonne over the same period.
Huntapac's Tarleton factory is the one of the largest root vegetable processing plants in Britain and its roof afforded an excellent opportunity to make use of solar power, said the company’s technical director Stephen Shields.
“There were two main reasons for choosing to install solar photovoltaic panels on the pack house roof,” he said. “The first was the opportunity to make considerable cost savings, and the second was to demonstrate our continuing commitment to operating as sustainably and as responsibly as possible.
“We considered a number of microgeneration companies before appointing Renewable Solutions to install a 50kW solar panel array. We chose the company because it took a very hands-on approach: it walked us through the documents and the application process for agreeing the Feed-in Tariff, and then provided active support in liaising with our energy supplier.”
The contract entailed installing a series of ZN Shine 190 watt panels, which were connected to a SMA Tripower 15000 TL G59-2 relay inverter. However, the principal challenges of the project related to timing: the installation was conducted in December 2011, during the busiest time of the year for British vegetable producers.
Renewable Solutions worked with Huntapac’s health & safety manager to prepare a customised method statement that would ensure the safety of the company’s employees during the installation.
Bespoke scaffolding system
In order not to interrupt the large number of inbound and outbound deliveries, Renewable Solutions erected a bespoke scaffolding system with a mechanical loading platform that could be operated without obstructing or hindering operations.
Another important challenge was to connect the power supply within a two hour time slot on a Sunday – the only period of down-time that was available to Huntapac, which operates 364 days a year. The installation team therefore had to work unusual hours but the work was ultimately completed on budget and to expectations.
Now, a year on from the installation, the array is performing in line with the company’s expectations in terms of energy output and the income generated via the EU Feed-in Tariff scheme. As a result, Huntapac expects to realise around £500,000 in energy savings and revenue over the 25 year lifespan of the system.
William Reed Business Media will be running the online event Operational Efficiency on November 29, which will feature presentations by experts working alongside and within the food industry focusing on improving efficiency and energy savings throughout the supply chain. For more details and to register, click here .