Case studies

Find out more information about some of Fife’s greenest businesses.

Ivan Wood & Sons - Freshness Guaranteed - and green, too!

Supplying hotels and catering establishments with fine quality fruit and vegetables 365 days a year means freshness is crucial and refrigerators are essential. 

For Ivan Wood and Sons in Ballingry, supplying fruit and vegetables on this scale requires a warehouse with vast industrial refrigerators equivalent to up to 2,000 domestic kitchen appliances!  The electricity bill was a staggering £1,200 per month.

The company has always been conscious of best practice in its pristinely organised warehouse with waste management and power usage subject to regular scrutiny to ensure that the processes and equipment are as efficient as possible.  The warehouse is operational 24 hours a day so the company invested in replacing the original fluorescent lighting to low energy lighting.  A costly exercise initially, but the investment paid off with the new lighting working out much cheaper to run and actually producing stronger light, securing financial and operational benefits.  Delivery vehicles and refrigeration units are audited to move towards the most modern, energy efficient models each time there is a replacement purchased.

Managing director, Ivan Wood, became interested in generating renewable power for the warehouse and income through the feed-in tariff scheme.  Originally, he considered installing a wind turbine but had some reservations about its suitability for the location. In June 2010, he decided to install solar photovoltaic panels on his house, which sits behind the warehouse on the family’s land.  The research, installation process and subsequent positive results from the panels at home convinced him to investigate the installation of a new energy source at the warehouse.

In January 2011, 175 panels were installed on the roof of the warehouse.  Despite the heavy and persistent snow, the full range of panels was installed in just three days at a cost of £130,000.  The company set a target of generating 32,000 kilowatts during the first 12 months but within six months the system had already generated 22,000 kilowatts suggesting that meeting the target is going to be very straightforward.  In addition, the company should benefit from around £12,000 per year income on the feed-in tariff, which is index linked. On top of that savings on monthly bills are expected to be up to about £6,000 per year.  The electricity bills that had previously come in around £1200 per month have dropped to as low as £200 per month since the installation.

The Energy Saving Trust provided the company with considerable help – initially they sent a representative to audit the warehouse and subsequently provided leads to accredited suppliers and fitters, so that the company could arrange the feed-in tariff.

The company is delighted with the performance of the PV panels and financial benefits they envisage.  On day one, despite the snow, the installation generated 160 kilowatts which got the entire project off to a great start.  Overall, the transition has been relatively smooth.

Ivan Wood offers his tips to other companies considering a renewable energy source.

  • Look at your power usage first and make sure you are already making all the savings you can.
  • Audit your business in terms of the units used as opposed to just the costs involved to make sure that your decision-making looks at the full picture.
  • Consider investing in low energy, high efficiency equipment.
  • Think about the type of renewable energy source that best fits your location and company strategy.  For example, how could planning issues impact on progress? With the PV panels, planning was relatively quick and straightforward.
  • Seek professional advice from the Energy Saving Trust.
  • Look on the installation of renewable energy source as a long term investment as the feed-in tariff lasts for 25 years.
  • Don’t forget that income from the feed-in tariff is taxable.
  • Once installed, keep a close eye on performance.  With PV panels you can easily spot if one is not performing as well as it should.
  • On good days, it is possible to run your business using no power from the grid at all.

And finally,

  • Keep your panels dusted!  It is claimed that PV panels in sunny Spain are less efficient than here in Scotland because dust impedes their performance. 

Thank goodness for a bit of Scottish rain!

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