One of Scotland’s largest solar farms is on track to produce its highest amount of green energy in a year - helped along by a record month in May.
Mackie’s of Scotland’s 7000 panel solar farm, based on the Aberdeenshire family farm, helps the firm produce its famous ice cream and chocolate while creating enough year round green energy to export back to the grid.
With a total installed capacity of 1.8MW, the ten-acre site complements Mackie’s four wind turbines (total 3MW), providing peak power in summer when wind levels tend to drop.
In May alone, the solar farm produced 275,000 kilowatt hours - enough power to make the equivalent of around 650,000 litres of ice cream and on one single day (Friday, May 25) it created enough electricity to supply the equivalent of three homes for an entire year.
Managing director and one of three sibling owners, Mac Mackie, said: “It’s not too often we get to talk favourably about the weather up here – but May and early June have had incredible amounts of sunshine.
“This is when we really reap the benefits of having a solar farm and the four turbines – when wind levels drop during warmer weather we can still produce consistent green energy, and vice-versa during colder windy months.”
Built by Loch Lomond based Absolute Solar and Wind, on completion it became Scotland’s largest and first solar farm.
In its first full annual year of green energy production, it created the equivalent power required to make 3.3 million litres of ice cream – enough electricity to power 485 homes.
The success of the solar farm carries on the legacy of Maitland Mackie, a passionate environmentalist and the founder of Mackie’s of Scotland.
Mac added: “My father was a pioneer in many ways including wind energy, trialling wind power with an early 50KW model in 1982 and later rejoicing in the capacity and efficiency available in the current models - our four vesta wind turbines, which total 3MW, which we installed in stages from 2005.
“What he was doing really was before his time and we have all inherited his passion when it comes to following his dream for Mackie’s to be entirely self-sufficient in renewable energy – and in doing so aim to become one of the greenest businesses in Britain.”
As well as the solar and wind farms, a smaller array of solar panels is also fitted on the byre roof and a further 400 kW of heating power for the office and houses comes from a biomass plant, ensuring a good mix of power types.
Packaging is also produced on the farm, reducing mileage associated with delivering, and the conversion of a tractor shed into a state-of-the-art on-site chocolate factory further minimises the firm’s carbon footprint.
Maitland Mackie and his late wife Halldis also established a University of Aberdeen Scholarship for Renewable Energy, with the first student starting in August 2015.
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