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Creation of local energy market lowers bills at farm estate

The manager of Rhug Estate Organic Farm has urged everyone to utilise peer-to-peer energy trading. 

Describing UrbanChain’s energy trading model as ‘the next iteration in renewable energy generation’, Philip Hughes says the Welsh estate is saving significant money having increased energy efficiency. 

As meat processors, retailers, farmers, landlords and generators of power, Rhug Estate Organic Farm covers 5,018 hectares across central and coastal areas in north Wales. 

The business signed up to UrbanChain’s Peer-to-Peer (P2P) energy exchange in April 2023 and has now renewed. 

Manchester-based UrbanChain, an energy market disruptor, currently manages +200GWh of renewable energy exchange and has +3.3TWh (terawatt hours) in its pipeline. 

Using integrated blockchain and AI, UrbanChain matches generators of renewable energy and consumers on a half hourly basis.

Philip Hughes, Estate Manager, Rhug Estate Organic Farm, said: “We have been part of UrbanChain’s peer-to-peer exchange since April 1 2023 and we have created our own energy market. 

“We now have flexibility due to being part of the energy exchange as UrbanChain helps us deal with the intermittency of renewables in a sophisticated way.

“The two coastal wind turbines we have power the air ambulance and search and rescue. The spare energy goes to Rhug Estate Organic Farm Shop approximately 50 miles away through UrbanChain’s sleeving process and powers all the fridges, our restaurant, cafe, the shop and our drive-through.”

Philip says Rhug Estate consists of an energy generation company and a retail operation that buys in the power generated. 

“We share the difference between our two companies which is a total of 10p per kWh, five pence goes to the generator and five pence to the retail consumer. Everyone's a winner,” he said.

“With the distance between the wind turbines and the farm shop, we could not have done this without UrbanChain. 

“We are making the most of these assets and anything we don’t use is sold through a conventional PPA.”

He added: “We believe we are net zero on both scope one and scope two. As it stands we are moving towards understanding our cope three emissions. 

“Having now signed up for another renewal with UrbanChain, we intend to do this for longer as it works very well. 

“It is financially positive without question. A new model that works and it’s also great that we can say to our customers that we are 100% renewable.

“I would encourage everyone to do this as it is the next iteration in renewable energy generation.” 

The capacity of the renewable energy schemes on Rhug Estate ranges from 4KW to 5MW and includes; solar ranging from 4KW to 1,235KW on the main estate; a 5MW solar scheme on the coast; two 225KW wind turbines by the coast at Caernarfon Airport; a 7.5KW Francis water turbine and heat pump by the lake in front of Rug Hall and a 90KW Archimedes screw, that drives another hydro-electric power scheme.

Earlier this year UrbanChain closed a £5.25m Series A round led by leading global investment firm Eurazeo earlier this year and has previously received significant investment from Innovate UK and the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero.

Those active in UrbanChain’s renewable energy trading market across the UK are generators of renewable energy, private companies from multiple sectors, local authorities, social housing associations, manufacturers, households and energy suppliers. 

Founder and CEO Somayeh Taheri said: “Rhug Estate, like many who are part of our P2P energy exchange across the UK, is benefitting greatly from a model which isn’t just the future of electricity markets, but the now. 

“We are delighted that Rhug Estate has renewed with UrbanChain and we look forward to what will hopefully be a long and successful working relationship.”

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