Say cheese! Wyke Farms’ renewable electricity story

Posted in: Energy

Posted on: 04.05.2017

At Good Energy, we source all of our electricity from over 1,400 independent renewable generators across the UK, as well as our own wind and solar farms.

Not only does this make for one fantastic renewable family, it also means that we’ve got over 1,000 wonderful stories to tell. 

One such story is Wyke Farms; a family-run cheese-making business from Somerset who not only make award-winning cheese, they also provide us with renewable electricity generated from organic waste, including the by-products of their own cheese-making, created on their farm.

Earlier this year, we launched an exciting new competition together. This will see one lucky household win a lifetime’s supply (up to 40 years) of renewable electricity – which we think is a world first!

To celebrate, we sat down with our CEO, Juliet Davenport, and Wyke Farm’s Managing Director, and third generation family member, Richard Clothier, to talk about our partnership.

When and why did Wyke Farms and Good Energy first go into partnership?

Juliet: We first started speaking around eight years ago to look at Good Energy buying some of the very first renewable electricity that Wyke was generating on their farm.

Richard: That’s right! Before we invested in the anaerobic digesters in 2012, we initially put some solar panels on the milking dairies, with any excess electricity being sold to Good Energy. At Wyke Farms our investment to be 100% Green is a commitment to be fit for the future and ensure our farming practices are as sustainable as they can be.

Juliet: I’d always thought that Wyke were an incredibly pioneering company, so working together made real sense. Even though we only buy a small amount of the electricity Wyke produce - as the rest is used on site - their story is fascinating and one I love to tell.

It’s always been part of Good Energy’s purpose to support people and organisations with unusual generation stories. I always remember the very first generator Good Energy signed up was a tea shop in Devon run by two elderly ladies, which had a 12kW water wheel on the side.

Stories like this, and Wyke’s, are fantastic and show why we should be supporting local, decentralised, community-owned generation from around the UK.

It’s always been part of Good Energy’s purpose to support people and organisations with unusual generation stories. I always remember the very first generator Good Energy signed up was a tea shop in Devon run by two elderly ladies, which had a 12kW water wheel on the side.

Stories like this, and Wyke’s, are fantastic and show why we should be supporting local, decentralised, community-owned generation from around the UK.

Richard: We love working with Good Energy and we’re really proud that some of our power goes into the electricity they supply to households and businesses. Who would have thought that we could ever power our homes with cheese?

Protecting the environment and sustainability is at the heart of what both companies do. When and why did this become so important for you?

Juliet: I was what could be classed as a ‘high carbon kid’ when I was growing up. Both my parents worked in rally driving and the automotive industry, so I saw a lot of fossil fuel burning when I was young.

When I was 19 and at university studying atmospheric physics, I realised that we couldn’t carry on like this and we needed to do something to tackle climate change. That’s essentially where the idea for Good Energy was born. I wanted to create a company that not only helped the world but was one that I wanted to work for.

Richard: My brother always described himself as a closet environmentalist and we always wanted to do something different with our products here at Wyke, especially when it came to being more sustainable and protecting the planet.

When we looked at how you could be more environmentally friendly when manufacturing a product like cheese, we were actually really surprised at just how many possibilities there were.

While a lot of businesses may say that becoming greener will cost you more, we’ve found the complete opposite. Challenging yourself to be efficient and reduce waste actually lowers your costs.

And as my grandparents always used to say: if you look after nature, nature looks after you. That’s the motto I still work to today.

Can you tell us a bit about why Wyke chose to generate renewable electricity through anaerobic digestion?

Richard: In the UK, food and farming is responsible for around 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, so we wanted to do something to limit that as much as possible – which is why we turned to renewables.

Working in the renewable industry is all about using as many of your natural assets as you can. Farming produces a lot of natural assets, such as organic waste, which normally ends up being spread on the land, causing bad smells and releasing gases which can harm the environment.

That’s why we were keen to build anaerobic digesters on site, allowing us to not only use our own organic waste for good, but also to become a place for disposal of food waste from all around the Somerset region. We’re almost like a scrapyard for organic waste!

While 90% of the feedstock is lactose sugars which come from cheese waste, we also take in silage, apple pomace and bread waste that’s not fit for animal consumption. It’s an amazing technology. I’d really like to see AD plants, as well as solar panels, on farms all over the country.

Juliet: I think so too – it would be great, and a really easy way to cut the emissions coming out of the agricultural sector.

Can you tell us about the competition that you’ve got running together?

Juliet: We’re giving consumers the opportunity to win a lifetime supply of 100% renewable electricity, worth over £20,000! It’s something that we don’t think has ever been done before.

All shoppers have to do is pick up a pack of delicious Wyke Farms Cheddar in their local store, with a special competition sticker on the front. One lucky winner will win a lifetime supply of renewable electricity for their home or small business. We're also giving away twenty one-year supplies of renewable electricity; and fifty runners up will win a Wyke Farms cheese hamper. 

Richard: Definitely! The competition really brings together what we do with food and renewable energy. For a lot of shoppers, energy bills are a big part of the household costs, so for someone to win something like this is great.

And finally, for those who aren’t lucky enough to win the competition, why would you encourage households and business to switch to a renewable energy supplier?

Richard: Renewables are the future and will be hugely important for future generations so the sooner we all start supporting them the better.

Juliet: Renewables now make up around 25% of the UK’s electricity needs – up from just 4% in 2005 – so we’re an ever growing family.

Joining a renewable supplier like Good Energy is simple. Not only can you instantly cut your personal carbon footprint by up to 50%, you can also support more renewable generation and be proud that your simple switch is helping to tackle climate change and protect your future and your children’s future for years to come. It’s as easy as that.

Jamie White

Senior Communications Executive 


Read more stories by Jamie White

Posted in: Energy

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