A massive solar array on the roofs of a Denbighshire egg farm is keeping 30,000 hens warm and laying as energy prices continue to soar.
Bruce and Catrin Jones made the major investment at their farm Braich yr Alarch against the backdrop of rapidly rising energy bills which threatened the business.
They installed 284 solar PV panels to keep their hens at an ideal 20°C, even when winter temperatures plunge below zero at the farm, which is located 1,000 feet up on the edge of Mynydd Hiraethog.
The couple estimate their hens produce over 21 million eggs a year, all bought by Chorley-based Staveleys Eggs who supply most of the UK’s major supermarkets.
The on-farm installation, which is located near the village of Clawddnewydd, will generate over 100,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power 25 homes.
Bruce said: “We didn’t consider solar when we set up the business and were paying 11.2p a unit for our electricity but now that it’s costing more than twice that it is helping us massively.
“Especially as other prices are going up as well – we use 216 tons of feed a month and that has just gone up by £40 a ton - and at the same time the price we get for eggs hasn’t changed.
“But the new solar system has cost us £80,000 and has been running for a few weeks but it will pay for itself in four years and it’s guaranteed for 25.”
Green energy firm Hafod Renewables installed the solar arrays, explaining that there was more demand at the moment because of surging prices.
Hafod managing director, David Jones said many businesses had seen their energy costs double in the last six months, and they’re likely to rise again soon.
“The rate for businesses like this is now 25p per kilowatt but the way the electricity suppliers are talking now the next three-year deals will be at 35p," he said.
“That’s why we are seeing a lot of interest from businesses and places like farms and many factories have large roof areas ideal for solar panels and the panels themselves are now much more efficient so you get more power per panel.
“It’s well suited to poultry farming because they use a lot of power in the warmer months as well because when you’ve got over thousands of hens generating heat you need to cool the hen houses down to 20C.”