Utilising cheap, 24/7 solar power for a diversified agri-business, UK

Photo: Solar-generated electricity is used at night by The Olde House farm holiday retreat in Cornwall, UK.

Shaun Hawkey runs a 600-acre farm and 28-cottage holiday retreat called The Olde House in Cornwall, UK. His agri-business is grid-connected and has a peak demand of over 100kW. To help offset costs, they also generate their own electricity from a 350kWp solar array.

Being an early adopter of renewables – solar and biomass – is part of his environmentally responsible approach to running the business. It also helps differentiate The Olde House in a region crowded with competing tourist accommodation.

We generate loads of electricity. But unfortunately, it is in the middle of the day when our guests are out

Shaun Hawkey, Manager of The Olde House

Wrong time of day
Holidaymakers turn on electrical appliances when they return to the cottages in the evening. Floodlights illuminate the farmyard as the night draws in. This mismatch between when his business needs the electricity (night) and when it is generated (day) means that Shaun must pay to import electricity from the grid instead of using his own solar power.

Storage gives control
Now Shaun has installed redT’s energy storage machines, he can better control the business’ energy use.

The excess solar energy generated on the farm during the day is stored in redT’s 1MWh storage system and then discharged as and when it is required during the evening. As a result, Shaun’s solar now works around the clock. Night or day, rain or shine.

Furthermore, The Olde House, with its six flow machines, is participating in UK energy and services company Centrica’s Local Energy Market (LEM) trial in Cornwall. This project encourages local businesses to use energy flexibly by using storage to unlock new revenue streams.

Earning from grid services
Although Cornwall leads the UK in terms of renewable energy – generating over 1GW from solar and wind – its grid network is struggling to cope. The Olde House can earn revenues by providing much needed spare capacity to the local grid from its redT machines.

Quite simply, if the grid needs power, Shaun gets paid to provide it. Or if there is too much generation on the network, Shaun gets paid to store some of the excess.

Through Centrica’s LEM project, The Olde House will also be able to take part in energy trading and arbitrage in the future, buying and selling energy with others in the scheme and earning additional revenue from doing so.

By storing energy, Shaun Hawkey can sell to the grid and generate additional revenue.

Good business sense
For Shaun, using redT’s energy storage units mean that he imports 34% less electricity from the grid. This lowers his energy bill significantly.

And solar power is no longer wasted. Time shifting daytime solar via redT’s machines into the night means the business now uses significantly more self-generated solar power than before.

As Shaun summarises:

redT’s machines have helped us to reduce our electricity cost by sheltering us from price fluctuations and enabling us to use all of our generated energy. They also create another income stream for my business and help us to achieve our sustainability goals.

Shaun Hawkey

Ask for an assessment of your business, contact us

Further information:

  • Watch video case study with Shaun Hawkey, redT’s CEO Scott McGregor and Centrica’s Cornwall LEM Project Manager Sophie Orme