PV System Powers Expansion of Top Dairy Business in Wales

One top dairy farm in Wales is using green energy to power a major expansion of its herd and cut its huge electricity costs – and the owner plans to show visiting farmers how well it works.

PV System Powers Expansion of Top Dairy Business in Wales
Dairy farmer Aled Morris (L) with David Jones (R) of Hafod Renewables.

Farmer Aled Morris milks 420 Holstein cows on almost 700 acres on the Denbighshire-Flintshire border at Marian Mawr, near Cwm Dyserth, Wales, and sells it to the co-op.

He has just had a £20,000 twin-solar system specially designed and installed by local energy experts Hafod Renewables to help cut the massive £400 a week electricity bills run up by the power needed to milk twice a day.

The business, E O Morris and Son, was set up by Morris’s grandfather and he took over when his father died 12 years ago and now runs it in partnership with his mother.

The farm produces four million litres of milk a year with each cow contributing nine and a half thousand and he’s a member of Farm Connect which runs visits to the property by farmers.

The milk has to be cooled from 37C degrees when it comes out of the cow down to under four degrees and the giant 20,000 litre tank and the milking equipment has to be washed out with water heated to 85C.

That calls for plenty of electricity and helping share the load now are 36 solar PV panels and six solar hot water panels, mounted on the roof of the farm’s extensive outbuildings.

They have been added to the wind turbine that Morris had already installed at the farm and are making a big difference to his costs – as visiting farmers will see on the next Farming Connect farm visit.

David Jones, Managing Director of Hafod Renewables, designed the bespoke system which includes a unique hot water tank which he developed with leading dairy equipment company Cotswold.

He explained Hafod installed two different types of solar panels on the roof – the solar hot water panels which will heat the water from 10C when it comes through the mains to 60C and then the electricity from the solar PV which will boost it up to 85C.

“Solar panels make sense for dairy farms because they have massive roof space and they use lots of electricity and systems like this can literally save them thousands so they pay for themselves very quickly.

“The 630-litre hot water tank has a heater installed halfway up it rather than at the bottom so that we can provide a continuous supply of water at 85C and avoid the danger of running out and having to wait for a fresh tank to be heated which is important as the size of his herd here increases.”

Jones continued, saying, “It means a saving for him of £3,000 a year which will pay for the system in under seven years and with it guaranteed for 25 years he will have over 18 years of free solar power.”

Morris, who lives at the 18th century farmhouse with his wife and five-year-old daughter, said, “We already had the wind turbine and we’re a big user of electricity with a £20,000 annual bill so anything we can do to save on that bill is welcomed.”

Marian Mawr is just under 700 acres and milks 420 cows twice a day with 300 young stock, grows wheat, maize and beet for fodder and currently employs four full-time staff and four part-time.

Over the next 18 months Morris intends to go up to 500 milking cows and he stated, “I would consider putting in more solar panels. We put the wind turbine in five years ago and it’s made a big difference.”

Jones, launched Hafod Renewables in a small shop in Denbigh with his father, Richard, nine years ago. The multi-award winning business now occupies a spacious unit in the village of Tremeirchion, employs nine staff and has become a key player in North Wales in the renewables sector.

As well as the domestic market they have fitted renewable energy systems to almost 100 farms, to the new Holywell ‘super’ school, businesses, including one  of Wales’s biggest boatyards, and a rugby club as well as providing battery storage and air and ground-source heating systems.

Congratulations on a job well done. Visits by other farmers sound a good idea, and --no doubt-- wonderful learning opportunities. However, I caution you to run the visits by your national veterinary society and CDC for steps to take to avoid transmission of diseases such as mad cow, FMD, and avian influenza.
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