The experience of working with the wind turbine at our Pollington plant gives a glimpse of future factory solutions.
The wind turbine was installed in our Pollington plant five years ago. The deal is simple. We use the electricity it generates and Ecotricity – the company which owns and manages the turbine – is paid for the electricity generation in the same way as any other generator.
For us the advantage is a reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels and Ecotricity takes its place as one of the generators in the National Grid.
It’s a simple solution from our perspective and our experience of working with this alternative energy source is very positive. The turbine contributes roughly a third of the electricity required by our Pollington Plant.
We see this as part of a zero carbon solution. But while it’s a good start, wind power is not going to provide a complete solution in the short term.
Firstly is the inconsistency of the wind – even in Yorkshire. We are following the intense global R&D race to develop effective industrial batteries with huge interest. If we can get to the stage where wind and solar-generated electricity can be stored effectively, then renewables become an even more significant part of the solution.
Secondly is the difficulty of installation. Planning consent is a major stumbling block and is the reason that we don’t currently have a wind turbine at our Borough Green plant. Electricity pylons seem to be acceptable across the country, but wind turbines are not universally popular.
We have to find solutions. Government has set a target of 2050 to be net zero carbon and our own group sustainability strategy mirrors that ambition. We are well into projects to establish the fastest and most effective ways to decarbonize our business. Wind energy will certainly have a major role to play, but as technology stands now, it will be part of the solution, not an end in itself.