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The solar revolution arrives at Midas

The journey to carbon neutral – the latest from Alan Rance of Midas Pattern Company Ltd.

The #MidasGreenInitiative was instigated to achieve two things, firstly to spread the word about halting climate change and to encourage other people to take responsibility for their carbon footprint, and secondly to make Midas Pattern Company Ltd a carbon neutral business. It is understood that the Industrial Revolution took place between approximately 1760 and 1840, what is less widely known is that feminist scientist and women’s rights campaigner, Eunice N Foote, disseminated in 1856 that greenhouse gas emissions actually warm the climate (at that time global emissions of CO2 were approximately zero tonnes), in actual fact they remained negligible all the way up until the turn of the century (c1900). Annual global emissions of CO2, since 2010, are now around 350 billion tonnes per year and climbing, it’s no coincidence that the past decade was the hottest on record….. there is no time to waste, it is imperative that we all #ActNow.

At Midas we have done exactly that. We have, over the last 18 months, turned our world upside down, every decision that is made in our business focuses on carbon and green, we consider the impact our actions will have on our CO2 emissions and we try to make decisions that will only reduce those emissions. Once we had our energy procurement under control (see September 2020 issue of Foundry Trade Journal) we decided to focus on two separate strands of carbon reduction and environmentalism. I will talk about recycling, repurposing, and responsible manufacturing at a later date, for now I will focus on further carbon reduction.

The irony here is that when we made the decision to install our own solar farm, our primary motive was to create a reserve of carbon credits that would be generated by selling 100 per cent green energy back into the national grid, essentially not only were we then supporting the nation’s demand for green energy, but we would have legitimate credits that could be used to offset unavoidable carbon emissions within our business – the reality is when a business is procuring 100 per cent green electricity from a national provider such as BULB! or Ecotricity etc. the installation of solar panels is actually carbon positive! Consider the carbon that goes into the manufacture of those panels, their shipping, the wiring, the inverter manufacture, all the sundry materials, there’s a lot of carbon there so the ‘greenest’ thing is to just buy green energy from elsewhere isn’t it?

We didn’t think so, we wanted to show intent! Nothing shows commitment like a £200,000.00 solar farm, when you think of it in engineering terms that’s just a decent CNC machine, no one bats an eye when you put down a new CNC but they do when you cover all your roof area with photovoltaic panels! It really does get attention. Now consider that every kilowatt of power you generate is essentially free, and will remain so for 30-50 years, no increase in prices, no variation of tariff, how good would it feel to know that on a sunny summer day your entire factory could potentially be running on 100 per cent green, 100 per cent free energy?

Of course, the investment has to be paid for, so that power won’t be free to start with, for us we funded our entire installation through an HP vehicle, a seven-year term was decided upon, the size of our system meant that from day one we would only ever generate profit; the system was essentially self-financing! Our green energy suppliers charge us around £0.14p/kw, The power our system generates will cost us £0.05p/kw, essentially saving us £0.09p/kw for every unit of our own power we use during that five-year payment period. Once the asset finance is cleared at the end of year five, the power our own solar farm produces is essentially free, thus saving us £0.14p on every kw of our own power we use.

Or to put it another way, we pay for our solar farm entirely from the savings we make on our energy purchasing, indeed from day one we make a profit, our system is self-financing, it never actually costs us anything, we just save money. Over the next 25 years we forecast a profit from our system of £1.2m!

That’s right, our relatively small, 650 panel, 187,00kWh/pa system that generates 32 per cent of our annual energy usage will make the business well over one million pounds worth of profit within 25 years, you don’t have to be green to realise there’s no reason not to do that! In addition to that purely financial gain there are the green credits that we gain by selling excess power which can offset our carbon intensive processes. Those carbon credits can be used to offset the system’s installation too, there is also the feel good aspect of knowing that excess power is fed into the grid for others to use and that means less energy being generated by fossil fuels, and of course it means hugely positive PR at a time where responsible businesses want to procure from equally responsible businesses (remember the thoughts of Apple CEO Tim Cook covered in the last issue of Foundry Trade Journal)?

We feel that the installation of our solar farm didn’t just emphasise our seriousness about combating climate change and using our platform to encourage others to #ActNow, we feel it was a decidedly good, profit motivated, business decision. As someone said to me recently ‘there is a climate of change’ right now, maybe industrial solar panels could bring some very green and very profitable change to your business. I’ve said before, investing in green strategies doesn’t have to cost the earth, but with private industrial solar energy farms we could help to save the earth!

Alan Rance MICME, Midas Pattern Company Ltd