Farmer reaps rewards of green energy
GREEN energy is reaping the rewards for a Gloucestershire farmer.
After a £160,000 investment, Berkeley Heath Farm has installed new roof and ground-mounted solar panels.
And the farm's climate conscious owner Tony Cullimore said it is only the beginning of his environmental plans.
Since March this year, the 186-acre farm has used 95% of power generated by the solar panels, selling five per cent back to the grid.
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The panels, installed by specialists Solar Solutions Malvern, are roof-mounted on three of the farm's south-facing barns and a new 80-metre ground array in a nearby field.
Together they generate almost 90 kilowatts of power with the potential to return a £750,000 profit for the farm after 25 years in the feed-in-tariff programme.
Famous in the county for its unusual animals, including a herd of American Bison and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, Berkeley Heath Farm is one of the industry's successful examples of farm diversification – mainly due to Mr Cullimore's decision to develop a large proportion of his land to house Cattle Country Adventure Park.
Mr Cullimore, 61, said: "It has been well documented how important a role green energy is now playing across the farming industry.
"There is undoubtedly some nervousness amongst farmers on what is a relatively new trend but with research, advice, and working with professional installers, we've found a perfect solution to match our environmental ambitions.
"For me, protecting the environment is vital so being able to generate almost all of our electricity via the sun is tremendous.
"We've got a safe, low-maintenance solution and are making our land work that bit harder for us.
"It's also exciting to show our visitors what we are doing, especially children who come on school visits."
Mr Cullimore added that the farm is also gaining from the installation of less well-known energy sources. An innovative ground source heat pump has been installed and a wind speed project is underway to evaluate the installation of a low-level wind turbine.