Romshed Farm is a small, 175 acre, family run farm on the edge of the Weald in Underriver, just south of Sevenoaks. With conservation principles at its core, the ethos of the farm centres on supplying the highest quality, great tasting, pasture fed, seasonal meat. It is registered as organic with the Soil Association and is an approved supplier by the Pasture Fed Livestock. As an organic producer and being inherently proud of its conservation farming, Romshed Farm was interested in aligning its energy usage with its ethos. Romshed Farm is very much part of the local community so the ability to produce its own energy sat well with them. A further factor in the Farm's decision to use solar PV was the ever rising cost of traditional energy, the continual price increases were causing concern for the farms' management - bringing the budgetary cost of energy back within the farms control would help secure the long term viability of Romshed Farm.
Sat within stunning countryside the farm is based within two planning authorities - Tonbridge & Malling and Sevenoaks. The roof initially proposed was unsuitable for the mounting of the panels, the subsequent site for the installation of the solar PV was near to a listed building, and could, arguably, affect the setting of this building. Also the farm is based in an area of outstanding natural beauty. These factors meant that planning permission would be needed in order to erect the solar PV mounting and units. JPS worked with the client to compile meticulous reports, photographs and technical drawings outlining how the proposed installation would look and any possible impacts on the area. Both planning authorities were more than satisfied with the strong case put forward by JPS and Romshed Farm, and planning permission was granted.
The installation took a total of 12 days to fully install the mountings, carry out the required electrical work and mount the panels. The German manufactured Solar-world panels offer 20kWh of power and were fitted with Enphase Micro Inverters. This was a key feature of the proposal by JPS and would ensure that Romshed Farm gained the best return on investment on their capital outlay.
Micro inverters offer better efficiencies than their string inverter counterparts by offering a greater energy yield - even in low light conditions. Coupled with industry leading reliability and a 20 year whole life warranty. Tests have shown that when compared to the standard string inverters, the micro inverters will benefit from up to a 10% increase in energy harvest. As the units were installed away from the main workings of the farm, there was no on-site disruption to the farm whilst the work was being carried out.
In the short term the electricity consumption of the farm has been vastly reduced, whilst longer term the feed-in tariffs and export tariffs should offer a new revenue stream of over £3,000 per annum. In all, the financial outlay of the installation will have paid for itself within 7 years.
JPS also installed intelligent immersions - another way to ensure the farm fully capitalise on their return on investment. This device diverts any "spare" electricity and feeds it into the hot water cylinder of the farm house and office. As the installation is relatively large this means that these buildings should receive free hot water throughout the year.
Mr & Mrs Weston, the owners of Romshed Farm commented:
"We have found the entire process, from initial consultation to final installation, to be very smooth running. JPS offered us great, relevant advice and talked through the technical and financial implications of different systems along with the potential benefits to us and the farm. It made making the final decision far simpler for us. The installation was quick, efficient and we started benefiting from the solar PV immediately. The idea to divert any excess energy means that we maximise our investment by receiving hot water for the farm throughout the year."