Countrywide unveils green energy division

Countrywide, the rural supply business, has launched a new renewable energy division at this year’s Royal Welsh Show, with ambitious plans for growth in the sector.

Following its acquisition of specialist energy firm 7Y Services last October, Countrywide said it aims to become “a leading farm and renewable energy company in the UK within 18 months”.

Countrywide renewable energy director, Julian Morgan, who runs a woodchip boiler, a wind turbine and solar energy system on his own Herefordshire farm, says the new business will provide an independent service to farmers looking to establish renewable energy projects. “Our background in 7Y demonstrates we’re in this for the long term and we can actually demonstrate these technologies to farmers where we’ve established them already.”

Mr Morgan said more and more farmers were looking to renewable energy to limit some of the intense pressure on energy costs, particularly on high-demand farming systems like dairy and poultry units. “And if introducing these technologies can generate an income stream as well, it’s even more valuable.

“We could be in a situation in three to four years where demand for electricity exceeds supply at some peak times. And it’s possible that energy could become very expensive at those peaks.”

Countrywide’s renewable energy division had a team of ten full-time staff, as well as a host of companion businesses through relationships developed over some years, he added.

George Swell, who farms at Madley in Herefordshire and supplies Countrywide with firewood through his business, Certainly Wood, has installed at 99kw solar photovoltaic system on his barn roofs. “We’d budgeted that this would provide about 11,000 kwh/month, but actually it’s been nearer 13,000 kwh/month on average – about 20% of the business’s electricity use.”

Other farmers Countrywide’s renewable energy team have helped include Nick Layton, a beef, sheep and poultry farmer near Hereford. His anaerobic digestion plant is nearing completion and will use manure from his livestock enterprises plus home-grown maize and pommace from apples supplied to Magners and Bulmers cider factories. Heat from the AD plant will replace LPG gas systems in his poultry sheds, as well as generating electricity.

More news from the Royal Welsh Show 2011.