Rooftop solar array with 2,740 panels now completed at Thanet Earth

Thanet Earth solar installation

Thanet Earth has now completed a 2,740 solar panel rooftop project on its packhouse and office buildings in Birchington.

The installation by Beba Energy for the glasshouse salad grower is one of the largest rooftop solar arrays in Kent. The 1,054.9kW system will generate just under one thousand megawatt hours of clean electricity per year, enough energy to power 750 homes.

The scheme is anticipated to have over 80% use by Thanet Earth with the remaining 20% being exported to the local grid. This significantly reduces the amount of electricity used from National Grid and adds to Thanet Earth’s existing renewable energy schemes. Solar power now contributes to around 32% of their total power use at the pack house.

Thanet Earth

Thanet Earth generated its first crop of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers in 2009 and formed a partnership with Fareshare in 2013 to distribute surplus produce.

The business has grown, with six greenhouses on site and plans for a seventh. Its turnover exceeds £107million per year.

There is a workforce needed in excess of 800 people for the business, which produces around 30 million cucumbers, 24 million peppers and 400 million tomatoes per year.

Thanet Earth technical director Rob James said: “This was an important project for us as we work towards delivering our SBti target and onwards to Net Zero.

“Prior to this we had completed two carbon reduction projects, but this was the most complex and it was delivered on target and with minimal impact on our operations.”

The solar panel project was commissioned in late-Spring 2023 and now covers some 5,500m2.

The solar array will produce enough power to run 500 two-bedroom homes, and reduce their carbon emissions by just under 200,000kgs per year, the same as a taking 6.6million car miles off the road.

Shaun Beattie, Director at BeBa Energy, added: “We are delighted to have worked on this major installation for Thanet Earth which will also see an anticipated 189,706kgs carbon reduction each year for the business.

“We have now completed several installations of a similar size or larger for major horticulture and agriculture businesses in the county and the sector is working hard to use more solar energy as part of its move towards net zero.

“There is capacity for more roof space to be used for the generation of solar power in the agricultural sector and the wider business community, not just in Kent but across the UK.

“A report issued in August 2022 by The UK Warehouse Association said the UK had at that time roof space for 15GW of new solar power which would nearly double the UK’s solar PV capacity. This would meet National Grid’s minimum requirements for solar expansion by 2030.

“To date the UK has deployed around 17GW of solar with a further 3GW forecast to be added this year.”



  1. do these people at thanet earth have permission to do as they like as regards planning ? they seem to be expanding more and more. i have never seen any refusal for anything they want to do ?

    • Thanet seems to have a free reign when it comes to planning consents. TDC Planning must be understaffed as they haven’t the time to check the applications properly. The rubber stamp is working overtime and the poor decisions are rife under the manager there.
      Surely the Councillors know what is going on but have no power to do anything as almost all just follow what the officers say. It is depressing really how Thanet is being ruined by poor officer decisions without any come-backs on them.
      The light pollution should be enforced by TDC but it seems they have either no enforcement officers or they are being stretched too much with other work loads. They cannot even enforce noise pollution at Dreamland throughout the season. Reluctance or inability?

    • Each greenhouse is owned by an offshore company not paying the standard rate of corporation tax. So are they really better than Manston Airport?

  2. Perhaps next Thanet Earth will reduce on the amount of light pollution. I live 2.5 miles from the site . I look out of my ground floor windows at 04:00 and all I see is the orange glow from 220deg South. I hate to think what its like for the residents nearer to the site. Perhaps when Manston Airport reopens they will lodge a complaint to the environment agency. Yes sometimes depending on the wind planes will and did enter from this area.

  3. No they are constrained by planning law like every one else.
    I have no brief from them but it is solar panels on the roof of their buildings and it may be possible to generate power from the glasshouses.Unlike Manston they are actually growing food, employing people and have real financial backers.
    It does seem to me that unless we retreat back to the 1950’s with some people,they will not be happy.

  4. An excellent initiative. We should be putting solar panels on all house roofs, all factory ,warehouse and supermarket roofs as well as mounted on structures over the large car parks associated with shopping centres or hospitals. I understand that Jaguar Motors are erecting solar panels over their factory buildings.
    Yet, despite all this potential, there are still developers applying to build huge solar farms covering our green and pleasant land. Down near Sandwich, a recent application plans to cover 180 acres of the Ash Levels with solar panels while millions of householders across the nation would welcome panels on their roofs producing their own power. But not having the money to afford it.

  5. On a slightly different tack, does anyone know where their produce ends up as I never see any of it for sale in the local supermarkets ? That’s all been imported.

    • It’s all tasteless quick-forced grown stuff you get in the supermarkets though, you wouldn’t really want it unless you like bland products. It really doesn’t taste anything like home or farm grown.
      I completely understand why they need quick grown products to fill the shelves of supermarkets for the masses though but each to their own.
      Having their own solar farm to do it all is fantastic.

Comments are closed.