Onsite low carbon energy solution supports the growth of British produce

1st December 2018

British produce grower Jolly Tom (a joint venture between A Gomez and Villa Nursery founders and owners, Michael and Felice Gibilaro) wanted to improve the long-term sustainability of its operations whilst remaining competitive with overseas produce.

AMP Clean Energy developed a fully funded, wide-ranging low carbon energy solution to support the growth of Jolly Tom tomatoes and speciality peppers sustainably over the next 20 years.

The heat and power solution provides 100% of the Essex-based nursery’s energy needs. Biomass heat is used to cultivate two million kilos of tomatoes each year under glass, which is supplied to major UK supermarkets.

In phase 1 of the project, a 1.65-megawatt steam-generating biomass CHP plant, a 1MW biomass heat boiler and a 3MW reserve gas peaking engine, was financed and developed by AMP Clean Energy.

In January 2020, significant expansion of the nursery transformed it from 5 hectares to 8 hectares of new glasshouse. Phase 2 involved the installation of a further 4MW biomass boilers, giving a grand total of 6.5MW capacity overall. This has given a projected saving of 4,000 tonnes of carbon a year.

The low carbon measures have reduced Jolly Tom’s gas spend by £200,000 – a 30% reduction for the nursery. Under an energy supply agreement Jolly Tom simply pays for the heat and electricity it uses.

Jolly Tom proprietors and brothers Michael and Felice Gibilaro put sustainable growth at the heart of their business operations. With 70% of tomatoes in the UK being imported, being able to compete with British grown sustainable produce is crucial.

Michael Gibilaro, of Jolly Tom, said: “One of our largest costs here is energy. In order to be competitive with other countries like Spain, which has free heat, we need lower cost, sustainable energy, to both increase business productivity and supply the UK market with UK produce. Working with AMP Clean Energy, which is a partner we trust, that is what we have achieved.”

Felice Gibilaro added: “AMP Clean Energy is a great partner for us. Knowing that our product line is produced using clean, low carbon energy gives confidence to our customers and the end-user consumer.”

Stuart Reid, Managing Director (Projects) at AMP Clean Energy, said: “Jolly Tom is a role model of good practice which other nurseries could benefit from as we journey towards a net zero future. Our work with Jolly Tom is a great example of how AMP Clean Energy can support industrial heat and power users with a fully funded energy solution, meaning that the customer can focus on its core business.”