Northern Ireland-based dairy manufacturer Dale Farm has announced that it is now running one of its cheese manufacturing plants with 100% renewable energy after bringing a self-consumption solar farm online earlier this month.
The 5MW solar farm, which is co-located with the company’s cheddar cheese plant in Dunmanbridge, in County Tyrone, is set to reduce Dale Farm’s overall carbon footprint by 20% – saving the business millions of pounds on energy costs in the process. The cost savings – which haven’t been disclosed – will then be passed on to the company’s 1,300 dairy farmers, who collectively own the business.
Spanning 37 acres, the solar farm is directly connected to the company’s network and is thought to be one of the largest solar PV installations within the global dairy sector.
Dale Farm’s group operations director Chris McAlinden said the solar array, which was designed and installed by CES Energy, will help the company position its operations “at the vanguard of sustainability” for global dairy.
“Dale Farm is committed to leading the way in sustainability – with a strategy that sees us constantly assessing our processes and facilities to identify how we can reduce our carbon footprint and increase efficiency,” McAlinden said.
“This approach is about doing the right thing for the environment and ultimately making our business as lean as it can be, so we can pay our farmer owners the best possible price for their milk.”
The move from Dale Farm, which operates 10 manufacturing plants nationwide, comes at a time where a host of businesses within the food and drink and consumer goods sectors are implementing similar measures to decarbonise their power.
Food and drink giant Nestlé, for example, recently announced that it will generate half of its UK and Ireland energy needs from a new wind farm in Scotland that it has funded.
Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble (P&G) last month pledged to purchase renewable energy to power 100% of its plants by 2030 and Mars Australia also committed to generating the equivalent of 100% of its estate’s electricity use from renewable sources by 2020.