As well as adopting sustainable farming practices and being an advocate for wildlife preservation, family-run business Courteenhall Farms champions renewable energy.
The Wake family has been in South Northamptonshire since the 13th century, and they’ve been farming at Courteenhall for 350 years. With a long and proud legacy to preserve, the family is committed to supporting the local community and protecting the environment for future generations.
Among an array of renewable technologies and sustainable farming initiatives, Courteenhall was powered with 100% renewable electricity from SSE’s own UK wind farms and hydro plants for six months on the SSE Protect tariff.
No. of employees: 26
The challenge: During a volatile time in the energy markets, Courteenhall had to find a renewable energy supplier who shared the same sustainability values and commitment to tackling the climate crisis.
The solution: Courteenhall was powered by 100% renewable electricity from SSE’s own UK wind farms and hydro plants. They were on the SSE Protect tariff which completely fixes energy costs, including unit prices and all existing non-commodity costs. They were able to agree a fixed six-month contract to give some budget security during a period of economic uncertainty.
Courteenhall was introduced to SSE Energy Solutions through a partnership with Zellar, an online sustainability platform for small businesses. The estate’s Account Manager, Hayley Gasson, was impressed with the number of business energy quotes they received from Zellar.
‘We have over 20 meters on site and Zellar was able to provide us with some quotes in a table format. This was really helpful and showed us how much each meter would cost on an annual basis.’ Hayley Gasson, Account Manager, Courteenhall Farms.
But while cost is an important factor for any business’s decision-making process, a supplier’s green credentials take priority for Courteenhall. As a business, Courteenhall wants to minimise their carbon footprint as much as possible. With an impressive renewable generation portfolio, made up of multiple ground source heat pumps and rooftop solar panels, they produce their own energy wherever they can.
That’s why Managing Partner Johnny Wake places such emphasis on working with a renewable supplier.‘It’s pointless producing our own energy and saying that we’re green if we’re actually buying a whole lot of other energy from the grid which isn’t green at all‡. So, it is a really important way of us making sure our story is consistent and true.’
After reviewing all the quotes from Zellar, Hayley decided that the SSE Protect tariff was the right choice for Courteenhall. The tariff includes 100% renewable electricity from SSE’s own renewable assets, and fixed wholesale energy prices and standing charges for the entire length of the contract. So, as well as aligning with Courteenhall’s core sustainability values, the six-month contract offered some much-needed budget assurance during a period of economic uncertainty.
Courteenhall measures sustainability in three ways: community, financial and environmental. With business leader Johnny Wake pointing out: ‘If we’re not part of the community, there’s no point in us being here. And if we’re not financially sustainable, there’s no business left.’
In recognising that sustainability in business extends beyond renewable energy, Courteenhall manages a number of innovative community projects and environmental programmes. Whether it’s organising educational visits, hosting community fetes, or joining government schemes, it’s easy to understand why Courteenhall is so highly regarded in the industry. Throughout the years, the business has received several titles and accolades, including the celebrated Community Farming Hero award from the National Farmers Union.
When a small business owner asks Johnny for sustainability advice, he says the first thing they should do is carry out a baseline assessment, or a carbon calculation, to understand where they’re at today. More importantly, the green entrepreneur will always tell them to think about their purpose, and why they do what they do. If you’re clear about your business’s motivations and aspirations, it’s easier to get employees on board with your net zero journey, which Johnny believes is the key to sustainability success.
And while onlookers might think Courteenhall has taken radical action in their approach to sustainability, Johnny feels the business has only dipped their toe in the water and they could and should be more radical.
‡ All our renewable electricity is sourced from wind and hydro assets wholly or partly owned by SSE Renewables, our sister company in the SSE Group. With SSE renewable electricity, you’ll continue to get your electricity through the national grid as normal, and we’ll match your consumption to REGOs from the SSE Group’s generating assets.