UK: Generating better returns for your energy

While selling back spare electricity to the grid can bring a new income stream, growers are not always getting the best deals. GrowSave is on hand to help…

The horticulture sector is increasingly contributing to the greening of the electricity grid by installing conventional gas CHP, biomass CHP, solar PV and wind turbines. Growers who produce electrical power can opt to use the electricity produced themselves for crop lighting, pack house equipment or cooling when convenient, and export spare power to the grid to receive welcome additional income.

It wasn’t that long ago that electricity generation and trading was in the hands of only the very biggest organisations. However, with the introduction of small ‘embedded’ generation, it’s now available to many more horticulture businesses. To make it worthwhile, these businesses need to look at the selling process closely.

The trading of exported electricity is a less established process than buying, and the systems for ensuring good prices are not as well developed. The most common trading systems for the smaller end of the market are very simple indeed. However, these often undervalue the exported electricity, as they fail to recognise either the high value of the energy produced at times of peak domestic demand or the benefits to the power distributor of more geographically evenly spread generation. Owners of small generation systems must, therefore, be careful not to be fobbed off with a fixed price generation or power purchase contract, which pays a derisory rate for electricity produced. Instead, growers would be better off to take informed decisions about the best time to export their spare power.

The good news is that help is at hand. GrowSave can signpost growers to a number of products which enable them to get the best prices and in some cases access to the same variable pricing systems as the big generators. Variable pricing systems can be used regardless of source power but do require the systems to be over 100kW in size. For smaller systems, generators will still be reliant on annual power purchase agreements or the guaranteed export price.

If you would like more information, contact the GrowSave team here.

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