UK farmer harvests three-phase energy

Reaping solar reward – the sustainable solution to rising energy costs

As a young man Simon Fellows started farming a 250 acre mixed farm in Malvern, England. Continually looking for ways to improve his farming methods and to develop his land, he now has 2,400 acres, 10 rental properties, and a state of the art sustainable energy power supply.

Simon’s historic half timbered farmhouse is typical of the area

Producing 5,000 tons of cereal crops annually, along with Maize, Beans and that dazzlingly bright yellow crop Oilseed Rape, Simon positively relishes taking his business into unchartered waters, learning its lessons, and then investing in change.

The most energy intensive operation on the farm is the grain drying shed which has a massive ventilator requiring three-phase power. Until recently that power was provided – during the day – by PV inverters; but with no way to store excess energy from his 45kWp solar array, more potential energy was wasted than was used, resulting in a reduction in bills of only 30%.

Wondering if anyone else was in his situation he began researching three phase power supplies using sustainable energy in remote locations and came across some Victron Energy videos by Jono – one about a Timber Processing plant in Scotland which had just the kind of system Simon was looking for, and another in his own industry featured a Turkey Farmer in the South East of the country.

Even better, he found a supplier who was located nearby – Energy Monkey – and when he invited them to conduct a survey of his business, Simon immediately felt he could trust the advice of Technical Sales Manager Paul Collins.

Simon took the opportunity to maximise his potential and so upgraded his system to a 226 panel solar array on his barn roof which offers a potential approaching 100kWp. Three-phase power is provided by 3 Quattro Inverter/chargers of 15kVA, with excess power being stored in BSL Lithium (LiFePo4) batteries which have a capacity of 61.4kWh, for overnight power supply – an arrangement which is working well and recharges rapidly each morning owning to Lithium’s high charge acceptance rate. The result was an immediate improvement in energy savings of 65%.

However, Simon is already thinking of adding capacity to 82kWh – possibly beyond 100kWh – in order to virtually eliminate energy costs, and so that his own house and his full-time let properties will be provided with almost year-round sustainable energy. To improve the power harvest on dull days, and during the short winter daylight-days he is investigating adding a wind turbine to his energy mix.

Energy Monkey were responsible for the system design, product supply and for the programming and commissioning of the system which was installed by M+M Electrical Solutions who are local to the farm. Energy Monkey are committed to training non specialist electricians to carry out installations to the highest specification and have invested in a training facility at their own offices.

System wiring is kept tidy thanks to the Lynx Distribution system of modular, extendable busbars with a  1000A current rating, and which has monitored fuses. A GX Touch 50 is a system-user interface with – as it name implies – a touch screen allowing instant access to real time system information, and in-depth information and programming options for all connected devices. A Cerbo GX lies at the heart of the installation harmonising both Victron Energy devices and an extensive range of compatible 3rd-party manufactured system devices. The Cerbo GX is a multi-port communication device which, connected to the internet, makes all system information and programming options available from anywhere in the world via VRM Victron Energy’s Remote Management Portal.

Story written by Justin Tyers – Victron Energy (