The Somerset firm was granted planning permission to build an anaerobic digester near its Bruton site at the end of last year.
The move will allow the UK’s third largest-selling Cheddar brand to save over 4Mkg of carbon dioxide a year and make it one of the first national food brands to be self-sufficient in green energy.
‘Point of difference’
Md Richard Clothier said: “For a brand like ours, this gives us a real point of difference in the market.”
Phase one of the solar scheme will produce about 1MW of electric, which will be increased to 5MW.
“The 1MW of electric alone will give us self-sufficiency in electrical power. Furthermore, we will then digest the manure from the farm and the biomethane reinjection from the anaerobic digestion plant will help take care of our gas needs. It’s fairly new technology that, up until now, hadn’t been widely available,” he added.
Clothier said the project tapped into the firm’s values of localism.
“We are a business that believes in the principles of sustainability. For us it’s about local farming, local sourcing and local supply wherever possible,” he said.
“When it comes to energy sourcing, it doesn't get more local than collecting the light off of your rooftops and using the gas digested from the manure from your cows, add to that a commitment to re-use all of the factory waste water again and it starts to get really exciting.”
Wyke Farms is in discussions with its energy advisers to ensure it will be maximising its opportunity for sustainable green growth and accurately measuring its results.
Green energy scheme
Clothier said the green energy scheme was the single biggest project Wyke Farms had undertaken in the last 10 years.
It comes after extensive automation, especially at its Wincanton packaging site, which Clothier said was Europe’s “most advanced Cheddar packaging” site.
Wyke Farms has gone from being a £8M brand in 2005 to one valued at £72M today.
Clothier is up for the personality of the year award at this year’s Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards. To see who else is in the running and to vote, click here.
Click here to read our full feature interview with Clothier.