By shaun lowthorpe Business editor
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
A West Norfolk nursery is looking to slash its energy costs following a £750,000 project to install a biomass boiler.
PS + JE Ward Ltd at Terrington St Clement, near Kings Lynn, grows flowers and bulbs for commercial customers including the Morrisons and Asda supermarket chains.
The business, which employs around 100 staff, had been heating its 2.5 acres of glasshouses with expensive industrial fuel oil, delivered by tanker to its rural site. However, in November, it fired up its new biomass boiler after securing the funds from Clydesdale Bank, which it believes will bring down its energy bills at a stroke.
Mark Eves, Commercial Manager at PS + JE Ward, said: “We need heat, almost all year round, to warm the glasshouses through the winter and to dry tulip and daffodil bulbs through the summer. In the growing season last winter we spent in the region of £114,000 on oil alone.”
With oil prices rising steadily, the company turned to Clydesdale Bank for the £750,000 it needed to invest in its biomass project, which included extensions to some of the glasshouses.
Mr Eves added: “Under the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, we are being paid to burn the woodchip that fuels the boiler. When you couple that with an annual saving of around £65,000 on buying wood chip rather than oil, we estimate the boiler will have paid for itself in seven to eight years, or even sooner depending on how fast oil prices increase.
“By changing to the biomass boiler, we are also reducing our carbon footprint by a significant amount.”
The project is the latest to be supported by Clydesdale Bank, which has a long-standing relationship with PS + JE Ward.
In July, the bank also funded a £450,000 investment for a wood chip boiler by specialist flower grower JA Collison & Sons, of Tuxhill Farm in Hay Green.
Nicholas Hunt, Commercial Banking Relationship Manager for Clydesdale Bank in East Anglia, said: “PS + JE Ward is one of Norfolk’s great family-run agricultural businesses and we have enjoyed a long and healthy relationship. When they came to us with their plans to install a biomass boiler, the initial cost set against the payback period and the savings projections made perfect business sense.
“Controlling fuel costs is a real challenge for all businesses, and the company faces particular challenges with such an expanse of glasshouses to maintain at an ideal temperature.
“The biomass boiler not only contributes considerable cost savings, it is also an environmentally-friendly technology.”
Question marks surround the fate of several development projects in and around King’s Lynn after the developers behind the project went into administration.