More solar panel press coverage

Just when you thought it was safe to venture back into the media, there’s more coverage of the new solar panels here at the farm.

A Cambridgeshire farm has become one of the first in the country to install a system of solar panels that “track” the path of the sun, generating electricity for the farm’s commercial grain drying enterprise.

The five ground-mounted Deger 9000 NT dual-tracking photovoltaic units at James Peck’s 2023ha (5,000-acre) Scotland Farm, Dry Drayton, have a total power output of just below 50kWp (10kW each) and could cut the annual electricity bill by up to 40%.

Mr Peck, a former Farmers Weekly Young Farmer of the Year, says that because the panels are able to move and track the path of the sun throughout the day, in a similar way to sunflowers, they are up to 35% more efficient than fixed, or roof-mounted solar units.

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“It all started when we went to South Cambridgeshire planning department with a planning application for a second grain store and they came back and said they wanted us to obligate 10% to renewable energy,” he says.

“We looked at wind, but locally a lot of people have 50:50 views on that. We also looked at putting solar on the grainstore roof, but the extra steel that would have been needed to take the weight of the panels meant it was cheaper to install stand-alone panels.”

The turnkey system was installed by local firm Econergy Europe, which also assisted with its planning, design and implementation. Total cost came in at just under £200,000, all of which was financed by a 10-year bank loan from NatWest.

Mr Peck says the site has capacity to dry up to 28,000t of grain, and expects the panels to generate enough electricity to dry at least 12,000t a year. This should knock around £10,000 off the annual £25,000 electric bill, which combined with the Feed-in Tariff income and sales of any surplus energy, should give a payback of around 10 years, he says.

“That’s based on electricity prices staying the same for the next 10 years, but the payback period will come down as electric prices increase,” says Mr Peck.

“These are a great improvement on former systems which are static. I believe mine are some of the first to be installed in this country – if not the first.

“For some time I have wanted to be involved in renewable energy. I chose solar because energy generation is highest in the summer when our use of electricity is at its highest drying and storing grain. I think sunshine is more reliable than wind and a lot less trouble than anaerobic digester.”

The original article can be seen here.

Turn to the sun for power down on the farm

solar_panelsMore press coverage of the new solar panels at Scotland farm this week. The following is a reproduction of the article in the Cambridge News:

A new generation of photovoltaic panels which turn to follow the sun to produce solar energy have been installed at a Cambridgeshire farm.

They will be providing the power to dry thousands of tonnes of grain. The panels are at Scotland Farm, Dry Drayton, where James Peck has 5,000 acres. Several thousandtonnes of the grain produced are stored at the farm and the renewable energy used to dry it will save around £26,000 on the annual electricity bills, or 40%.

James is a former Farmers’ Weekly Young Farmer of the Year, and chairman of theCambridgeshire branch of the Country Land & Business Association, East.

He said: “These units are especially effective because, like sunflowers, they keeping turning towards the sun as it moves across the sky from dawn to dusk.

“These are a great improvement on former systems which are static.

“I believe mine are some of the first to be installed in this country – if not the first.”

He won a Nuffield Farming Scholarship which has taken him all over the world for 20 weeks to gather data for his paper Arable farming, where next and how do we get there. James has seen the way in which many countries are harnessing the sun and employing a whole range of renewable energy sources.

The original article can be viewed by clicking here.

Another Radio Cambridgeshire visit to Scotland Farm

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You may have recently seen articles regarding the new ‘intelligent’ photovoltaic panels which have been installed at Scotland Farm, including the one on this site taken from the CLA website. Well news of this innovative installation reached the news room at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and a reporter visited James Peck at the farm to find out more.

The interview was aired on the breakfast show on Monday 18th July 2011, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

If you wish to download the file, so that you can listen to it later, please ‘right click’ on the following link and select the save/download option from the fly out menu: James Peck on Radio Cambridgeshire (2.8 MB – MP3 format).

You can listen to the whole show again for one week after transmission via the BBC iPlayer.

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Solar Panels make the TV news

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News of the new solar panels at Scotland Farm have now reached the ears of the news room at ITV Anglia. A reporter from the channel has visited the farm to see what it was all about and spoke to James Peck and Robin Purser of Econergy Europe. The article was aired today and is reproduced below with kind permission of ITV.

P.X. Farms becomes green energy producer

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A new generation of photovoltaic panels which turn to follow the sun to produce solar energy, have been installed at a Scotland Farm.
They will be providing the power to dry thousands of tonnes of grain. The five ground-mounted ‘tracking’ photovoltaic units are now operating and the renewable energy will save around 40 percent of the farm’s annual electricity bill, and help the environment.
“I am very excited by this project” said James. “For some time I have wanted to be involved in renewable energy. I chose solar because energy generation is highest in the summer when our use of electricity is at its highest drying and storing grain. I think sunshine is more reliable than wind and a lot less trouble than anaerobic digester.
“These units are especially effective because, like sunflowers, they keeping turning towards the sun as it moves across the sky from dawn to dusk. These are a great improvement on former systems which are static. I believe mine are some of the first to be installed in this country – if not the first.”
The five tracking units are sited at ground level close to the grain store to which the power they produce will be sent.
The system was installed by local firm Econergy (Europe) Ltd. Robin Purser of Econergy remarked “We were thrilled to be asked to help James with his project. With a power output of just below 50kWp the system works well with Feed-in Tariffs, the government’s renewable energy support programme.
“Ground mounted systems are becoming more popular as people realise the benefits; photovoltaic is not just for putting on a roof.”
James was assisted in the detail by farming advisor and Norfolk CLA committee member Lindsay Hargreaves. “The really great thing about this installation is that commercially, it stacks up,” he said. “We needed this to pay its way within 10 years on 100 percent borrowed money, which it does. So this is not just a ‘win’ for the environment, but for James’ bank balance too.”
Having won a Nuffield Farming Scholarship which has taken him all over the world for 20 weeks to gather data for his paper ‘Arable farming, where next and how do we get there’, James has seen the way in which many countries are harnessing the sun and employing a whole range of renewable energy sources.

Sprinter 12 club

Flew this morning to hungry to look at a sprinter 12 with Michael Horsch, Tom Hawthorne, Anthony Wiseman and Stephen Burcham.

Went to GSD a 16000 ha+ farm. Excellent management and farming rotation.


90000 tonnes of storage.


Cooling the grain in the silos drops the air by 15c to outside temperature.

YouTube Video

Combining osr with 6 combines.