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Charles Saunders Brings the Solar Power

Racing towards the ambition of becoming carbon neutral, Bristol-based Charles Saunders Foodservice, has recently installed solar panels at its main depot, in Yate. Boasting 637 panels, the 250 kilowatt system is expected to cover 60% of the total electricity the depot uses, which will result in huge savings in the future.

Darren Gaulton, Managing Director at Charles Saunders, first began planning for the installation in March 2022, but due to a shortage of products in the industry the company had to wait until October 2023 for the system to be installed. However, once they had the go ahead, the solar panels were up and running within a month.

“Installing solar panels has been a company ambition for a while, and I’m delighted that we were finally able to make this happen before the end of 2023,” says Gaulton.

“The installation cost a total of £198,000, and the panels cover about half of our roof, so we still have capacity to add more in the future if we need to. With an average monthly electricity bill of £24,000, we’re excited to review our savings over the next year to see if we’re actually hitting the 60% return predicted.

“We won’t truly know what we’re saving until we get our first couple of months of electricity bills through, and even then, during winter the savings are always expected to be lower due to there being less sunlight hours. However, we expect these to average out in summer.”

The family-owned foodservice company also owns a number of smaller depots, in Poole and Dorset, but as these are satellite depots, with low electricity bills (no running fridge / freezers), the company has no plans or need to install solar panels at these facilities – as Gaulton says, it wouldn’t cover any investment.

Charles Saunders, which is also part of Fairway Foodservice, has been supporting local businesses for over 50 years and hopes that its latest big move towards being more environmentally sustainable will be recognised by current and future customers alike.

Charles Saunders recently acquired family foodservice company, Victoria Foods, and with that comes a new customer-base, who they hope to retain and even grow, with not only their great products but its sustainability ethos, too.

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