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Solar Savings: Cutting 17% off Preston company’s energy bills

The University of Central Lancashire’s Making Carbon Work project (MaCaW) and a £15,000 grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) are helping one of Lancashire’s most respected names in fresh food supply cut its energy costs and carbon.

For almost 50 years, B Cookson Limited has been a trusted name in fresh produce wholesaling. Originally operating from Preston’s Bow Lane Wholesale market, the company moved to purpose-built facilities in Fulwood, Preston in 2000.

The site is energy intensive. The large walk-in refrigerators that hold stock and keep products fresh are in operation 24/7. Multiple forklifts load and unload large HGVs and smaller vans. And a large office space is home to an admin and sales team that supports the business.

B Cookson Limited was no stranger to carbon reduction activities. “We already had around 40 solar panels in place and were using LED lighting,” explains Accounts Manager Nicola Morley. “We wanted to do more and find new/better ways of operating more energy efficiently, including installing more solar panels. When we started looking for someone to help us, the potential of a match funded grant from Making Carbon Work (MaCaW) convinced us to get in touch.”

Making carbon reduction simple

The MaCaW energy audit took place in summer 2019 and the report, produced in September the same year, confirmed the potential that increasing solar PV could have on the business. “Installing a 45 kWp solar PV system to generate electricity would save 15.83 tonnes of CO2e emissions annually, in addition to the savings delivered by the solar panels already in place,” explains Mark Nelson, MaCaW’s Business Engagement Officer.

Beyond solar, the MaCaW report identified further carbon reduction opportunities in behavioural change and renewing some of the LED lighting.

“There are limits to the behavioural changes we can make,” Nicola clarifies. “Our chillers need to stay on, of course. But one example of a change we did make was that when we close at the weekend we make sure the lights are off.”

At the end of 2019, B Cookson Limited was exploring grant options with MaCaW to help with the cost of installing additional solar panels. “We found the application process really easy,” says Nicola.

"UCLan have it well set up so they checked it and submitted it within a couple of weeks. Covid slowed the grant and installation process a little, but it was all very simple."

Nicola Morley, Accounts Manager at B Cookson Limited

With support from MaCaW, B Cookson Limited’s application was approved for the maximum match funded grant of £15,000.

Going greener, saving money

Now, 175 solar panels cover roughly half of B Cookson’s roof space. Although yet to receive an energy bill since completion of the installation, Nicola is looking forward to significant savings. “The new panels should save about 17% off our bills,” she confirms.

“Our work with B Cookson is a great example of how a top-end grant can be invested in a large-scale solar PV project, delivering big savings in terms of cost and carbon,” says Mark. “It’s also a good demonstration of how we’ve been able to work successfully with clients and support grant applications during the COVID pandemic.”

“I’d definitely recommend MaCaW,” says Nicola. “Going greener is something we feel we should be doing as a business and if you can do that whilst saving money it’s all good. MaCaW made doing that easy.”

To explore how MaCaW could help support your carbon reduction activities, contact us.

MaCaW is a UCLan project, an industry and academic collaboration funded by the ERDF alongside UCLan, and supported by Boost; Lancashire’s business growth hub.