In a move that promises to reshape the landscape of energy storage for British potato operations, Crop Systems Limited, based in Norfolk, has unveiled its groundbreaking ‘SmartSola’ system. This timely innovation is set to be a game-changer for farmers looking to optimize their home-generated energy and cut back on external power costs.
The ‘SmartSola’ system is designed to monitor energy generated from a variety of sources, including solar, hydro, wind, and biomass. It then strategically deploys this energy across up to 10 storage facilities, ensuring optimal use and efficiency.
Stored crops maintained in pristine condition
Philip Smith, a proud owner of Monkton Court Farm located near Ramsgate in Kent, has been an early adopter of the ‘SmartSola’ system. He has integrated it across his 3,500-tonne storage facilities constructed by Crop Systems Limited.
Over the past five years, these facilities have maintained his potato crops in pristine ‘just harvested’ condition. This has been achieved with the aid of advanced equipment like glycol fridges, which ensure low running costs.
Smith is particularly impressed with the enhancements brought about by ‘SmartSola’. He shared, “Annually, our four storage facilities consume around 300,000 kWh of electricity. Given the skyrocketing energy costs, it’s imperative for us to maximize our home-produced solar energy.”
Smart control, coupled with adaptability
He further elaborated on the system’s benefits: “SmartSola has been instrumental in smartly controlling our storage run times. As solar energy becomes available, the system sequentially activates the stores. On numerous occasions, our storage facilities operate solely on energy from our solar panels, eliminating the need for external energy and its associated costs.”
Smith also highlighted the system’s adaptability, “We typically store our crops at 2.7°C with a 0.2°C differential. However, when there’s ample power from the solar panels, we can over-cool to 2.5°C. This means that on days when the panels aren’t as effective, we can bypass using mains electricity. The energy required is essentially stored within the potatoes themselves.”
He concluded by praising the system’s flexibility, saying “The program allows store managers to prioritize different storage facilities or set unique parameters for each. For us, ‘Smart Sola’ has proven invaluable in our storage management.”
This innovative approach by Crop Systems Limited is a testament to the potential of harnessing home-generated energy, offering a sustainable and cost-effective solution for potato farmers across the UK.