Award Winning Farmer and NFU Regional Chair Leads the Way in Sustainable Farming
Having achieved the status of Chartered Environmentalist, Andrew Brown is already dedicated to combining strong conservation standards with profitable farming at Fairchilds Lodge, the mixed arable and permanent pasture farm that he owns in Rutland.
He recently appointed Prescient Power to install solar panels on his barn to further diversify his farm activities, cut his carbon footprint and provide an additional revenue stream.
Officially ‘unveiled’ by Alan Duncan, MP for Rutland & Melton, the barn holds both a 50kW and a 4kW array generating over 47,000 kWh of power annually.
With an onsite grain dryer, Mr Brown had a high seasonal electricity demand. The 50kW array supplies electricity to the barn and for export and the 4kW array supplies electricity to his farmhouse next door (with any surplus also going to export). The southeast facing barn provided an ideal surface to mount the array and detailed structural assessments were undertaken to ensure the barn was capable of supporting the static and wind loads of the arrays. To minimise any risk of excessive wind uplift, baffles were fitted around the edge of the array. With a three phase electricity supply coming into the barn and a good grid connection, export to the grid was easily achieved without the need for a network upgrade. The 4kw array connected to a separate single phase supply at the farmhouse.
The farm is set in an idyllic location close to the beautiful village of Caldecott, just south of Uppingham. It was important to ensure the solar arrays blended well with the farm buildings and appeared in keeping with the surrounding countryside and not least, looked good from the farmhouse conservatory.
Carl Benfield, Managing Director of Prescient Power said “We were delighted to work with Mr Brown on this project, he is a person of great experience within the farming community and he is leading the way in showing how well renewable energy fits within farming. We see renewable energy as the logical step for farmers to take, we call it ‘powering profitable farming’. It’s diversification in one sense of the word, but we’re not expecting farmers to become renewable energy experts. You pick the right company and they provide the expertise, leaving you to get on with you core role at the farm ”.
Talking of the installation, Andrew Brown stated “ As a chartered environmentalist I see it as a natural step to use renewable energy. As the imminent food and energy crises become a reality in the next few years we will need to use all the tools in the box available to us. These will include solar, wind, and GM crops. None of these are a panacea but will all help in our quest to feed and power a growing population. As a farmer my job is to convert the sun’s energy into crops and animal protein that we humans can use, so using the sun to provide energy in an electrical form is something which makes perfect environmental and economic sense.”