£10 million investment will help UK grow fruit out of season
Clock House Farm has announced a huge renewable energy project, which it claims is the biggest known river source heat pump system in the UK, and will aid more sustainable out-of-season fruit growing.
Clock House Farm has announced a significant investment in a renewable energy heating system which will help the producer grow fruit out of season.
The £10 million venture will see the UK-based company sourcing hear from the nearby River Medway, a currently untapped resource of renewable heat.
The scheme is believed to be the biggest known river source heat pump system in the UK and the company claims, the most significant investment in green energy for soft fruit in the UK (and one of the largest in Europe).
The project has taken three years to bring to fruition, delivering energy to a 6.5ha production site for raspberry (150 tonnes) and blackberry (300 tonnes). The second half of the site is scheduled for completion by 2024, enabling a further 200 tonnes of strawberries to be added to the out of season offering.
How the renewable energy system works
Fruit is grown in high tech poly greenhouses rather than standard tunnels and benefits from a consistent supply of heat from the Medway.
The process involves extraction of river water (heated by the sun) which passes through a heat exchanger and is then discharged straight back into the river, having removed a couple of degrees of heat from the water. A second loop then transfers this heat to the plant room’s six heat pumps to achieve a temperature of 45 degrees, after which it is then circulated out to the greenhouses.
The heat pumps total output is 10.6 megawatts which is equivalent to the same amount of energy produced by 106 automobile engines. To put this into context, one megawatt hour (the use of one megawatt or 1000 kilowatts, for a whole hour) would power around 2000 homes.1
The farm has also allocated a separate eight-hectare river meadow below the greenhouses to provide a large natural wilderness.
Why this investment is important
Commenting on the project, managing director Oli Pascall said: “As growers, extending the season is imperative to our – and other British growers’ – success by offering the potential for sales to be spread across a longer time frame and therefore ensure less reliance on imported soft fruit. Of course, ultimately this also helps to reduce the carbon footprint.
“We will continue to seek out clean energy solutions and remain respectful of the fact that traditional energy supplies no longer represent an infinite resource. This is particularly apposite in light of the current situation regarding the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine and the resulting impact of sanctions that have now been imposed.”