The British Potato Council calculates that between 3.5 and 4 million tonnes of UK potatoes are stored every year. The continual increases in electricity costs and losses in energy from the stores are impacting growers’ profitability.
Post-harvest energy costs are estimated to be as high as £35 million per season across the UK potato industry. Driven by energy price hikes, it’s no wonder growers are taking steps to save money, says solar PV business Southern Solar.
Technology can be deployed to make further savings; variable speed fans deliver savings on fuel consumption, reducing humidity and weight of the crop. Research by the NFU and Southern Solar on the paybacks and effects of installing solar for farms has shown that, for storage where consumption of electricity is high, even greater savings are possible with solar PV – paybacks of less than six years and returns of 16-18 per cent are common. There is an added benefit too: Walkers has recently discovered the carbon footprint of a typical bag of crisps is around 75g CO2.
As the major buyers put more pressure on growers and suppliers to reduce the carbon cost of their crop, implementing Solar PV in storage facilities increases the opportunity to win supply contracts.