Ice Cream producer Mackie’s of Scotland is set to switch on the largest Solar panel farm in Scotland when it goes on grid tomorrow.
The installation of almost 7,000 Solar PV panels on the Aberdeenshire farm, will have a capacity of 1.8MW, generating the equivalent amount of energy required for Mackie’s to make 4 million liters of ice cream. The latest stage in their GBP6.5 m renewables investment is a fourth 500kW wind turbine and new bio-mass energy plant, which have also been installed.
Mackie’s can now produce a total of 10.5 million kWh of green electricity each year. Overall, approximately 40% of that energy will be used directly on the farm, with the excess sold via the grid to 100% renewable energy supplier, Good Energy.
Mac Mackie, managing director of Mackie’s of Scotland said: “One of our goals is to be self-sufficient in renewable energy. A mix of different types of renewable energy makes great sense because they can produce peaks at different times. The wind turbines typically produce more power over winter months and the night, while the solar panels obviously produce more electricity in the spring and summer. It does seem perfect for an ice cream company to be reliant on the sun in more ways than one.”
With an annual turnover of £11.5m a growth of 5% on 2013/14, the Aberdeenshire farm’s business energy requirements has doubled since 2000 to around 4 million kWH per year. This mirrors the increased volume of ice cream as a result of investment in additional freezers, milking robots and packaging machinery, all of which is done on site. Work is also underway for a new chocolate factory, opening early 2016.
Dr. Colin Anderson of Edinburgh University, who has been acting as technical advisor to Mackie’s, said: “As well as being the largest solar array in Scotland, Mackies’ project is the first in Scotland to use an innovative solid-state control system to regulate the grid voltage at the point of connection. This enables the solar array to operate in parallel with the new wind turbine, allowing these two complementary forms of generation to work together and maximize the renewable energy generated at the site.”