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Cook Food Solar Power

The 158kW installation at the new COOK Classics Kitchen will provide power to freeze their award-winning meals and the kitchen's other energy needs for the next eighteen years.

One Swale business is leading the way in supporting the Council’s pledge to “invest in our environment and respond positively to global challenges”* through the installation of a rooftop solar array. In collaboration with Orchard Community Energy (OCE), the 158kW installation at the new COOK Classics Kitchen, will provide power to freeze their award-winning meals and the kitchen's other energy needs for the next eighteen years.

COOK had been looking to partner with Orchard Community Energy for a number of years but were unable to make an installation on the building housing their existing kitchen facilities. With the building of their new bespoke kitchen, located on the Eurolink in Sittingbourne, they were able to incorporate the use of solar power from the outset. This would deliver long term cost savings for the company through a fixed cost purchase agreement, without having the upfront capital expenditure costs as well providing a benefit for the community of Swale.

COOK is committed to reducing their emissions and doing their bit to tackle climate change. They have pledged to improve their energy efficiency, use natural gas where possible and be Net Zero Carbon in their direct operations by 2030. They see solar generation as a key part of their strategy to reduce impact.

Richard Pike, Technical and Sustainability Director for COOK Food, explained how the company found the process overall, very straightforward, with little extra work required by them. “A contract was drawn up for the lease of the new kitchen’s roof to OCE, who then instructed contractors to undertake the necessary feasibility surveys, ensuring the structure could tolerate the weight of the panels and the system would provide maximum benefit. Once the surveys had been approved, OCE contractors then carried out the installation work.”

He went on to say “there are thousands of acres of empty industrial roof space across the country and as the technology develops, costs are reducing and efficiency is improving, making the installation of solar power more and more commercially attractive. All whilst having the added benefit of reducing the associated carbon footprint from energy purchased from the grid.”

Orchard Community Energy (OCE) is a community energy society serving Swale and Medway. It develops community-owned renewable energy, low carbon and energy efficiency projects. It is one of about 350 community energy groups across the UK.

As a Community Benefit Society, OCE is different from a commercial company in that its aim is to benefit the local community rather than its members or shareholders. Capital is provided by interested individuals who are paid interest on their investment, and by bank loans. Its profits then go to support projects by local social and environmental charities.

OCE owns a ground mounted solar array near Iwade that has been generating power since 2016 and has enabled nearly £40,000 to be donated to local good causes so far.

COOK approached OCE to put community-owned solar on the roof of their new Kitchen so that its use of renewable energy delivered long-term support to the local community where they are located. This was OCE's second energy generation project and its first solar array on a commercial roof.

OCE is now seeking further sites for new renewable energy generation projects and is particularly keen to install community-owned solar on the rooftops of commercial or community buildings where the building occupier can contract to buy all the energy for a significant length of time. Its "Guide to considering Community Owned Solar" provides more details and is available on its website at Seeking new projects — Orchard Community Energy

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact

*Quoted from “Working together for a better borough. Corporate Plan 2020-2030