Mole Energy Bens Farm Shop Case Study

How Ben’s Farm Shop went local to save thousands with solar

Today’s turbulent economy means that supporting local businesses has never been more important. That’s why Ben’s Farm Shop picked Mole Energy to make their business even greener with a best-class solar panel system.

“Ben’s Farm Shop is a small company comprising four farm stores in Staverton, Totnes, Yealmpton and Exeter, and Ben’s Wine and Tapas bar on Totnes High Street,” says Finance Director Greg. “Trading for more than 35 years and formerly known as Riverford Farm Shops, we believe in good food from good farming.

“That means supporting small local businesses by sourcing the majority of our produce from Devonshire farms that use sustainable farming methods. It also means offering a fair price to our suppliers. This way, we’re able to provide customers with fresh local produce that tastes better, supports local businesses and employment, and puts money back into our economy.”

Why solar PV was the obvious choice

Solar panels were an obvious choice for Ben’s Farm Shop. We’ve always tried to be at the forefront of initiatives that help the environment,” says Greg. “We’ve never used plastic bags, instead choosing compostable material. Customers love our systems for refilling bottles with ecological washing liquids and we’ve recently introduced dispensers of bulk dried goods like beans, pulses, grains and nuts.”

While Greg’s team were committed to making their customer experience as environmentally friendly as possible, clean power was the missing piece of the puzzle.

“We wanted to make the most of the south-facing roofs of our two largest shops and generate green energy while cutting our electricity costs, which totalled around £30k each year at both sites. This meant finding a quality product that would last a long time and have a minimal environmental impact at the end of its working life,” says Greg. “The challenge was finding a local company at an affordable price. We were in luck.”

Solar simplicity

Getting their solar project started was easy. “Tim at Mole Energy met us at our two sites, confirmed that our shops were suitable for solar and set about arranging a survey.” says Greg.

“This confirmed how much energy we were likely to generate and how much we were likely to save. The system was costed and the specifications clearly explained to us, and we were extremely pleased to find that our new panels have an excellent end-of-life recyclability.”

The process couldn’t have been simpler, says Greg. “Mole Energy took over the project and made all the arrangements, keeping us up to date, organising all the paperwork and seeing the work to completion. Throughout, the service has been second-to-none and we’ve got to know the team personally. If I was asked whether I’d use Mole Energy again, I’d have no hesitation in saying yes.”

What about the Ben’s solar savings? “It’s early days, but the wonderful spring weather gave us a great start to the year,” says Greg. “We estimate that our panels will generate 18%–22% of our electricity over the next 12 months. That’s a big saving, made better because we’re also doing our bit for the environment.”

Going local

Hassle-free installation isn’t the only advantage of having a quality solar supplier just down the road; our engineers are only 15 minutes away should Greg’s team experience a panel problem in future.

“Paying a fair price to service providers like Mole Energy protects us in the day-to-day and is a key benefit of working with local businesses,” says Greg. “The same is true of our suppliers. Sourcing products from within two or three miles of our shops made all the difference during last years ‘Beast from the East’, for example. When most supermarkets ran out of fresh produce, our shelves were well-stocked.

“We’re not the only ones who save by working in this way. By partnering with local businesses, more money goes around our local economy and we protect jobs and communities right here in South Devon,” says Greg.

With all the economic and political uncertainties of our modern world, thinking and working local ensures a measure of certainty for our region. Providing solar to businesses like Greg’s makes us proud to be an active part of our local community, giving back to both our economy and our environment.

Are you looking to cut costs and carbon emissions in your business? Choose South West solar by Mole Energy, and let our team answer your energy questions today on 01803 732 946 or [email protected].