The massive rise in energy costs in the last couple of years has been a very real challenge for businesses large and small, with many now seeking alternative forms of energy in order to keep costs down and safeguard their future.

Everton Nurseries in Hampshire is one such firm. With over 100 years in business and still owned by the descendants of founder Mr C G Collyer family, the company employs 50 people in its nursery, garden centre and restaurant.

Earlier this year, the owners made the decision to invest in a major solar installation and they chose Vanadium Technologies, a fellow Hampshire company which specialises in electrical and renewable energy installations for domestic and commercial customers.

Vanadium has a team of in-house engineers
Vanadium has a team of in-house engineers

Vanadium’s in-house team were able to quote, design and install 127 solar panels, covering the entire roof of Everton Nurseries’ garden centre, giving the business a clean, sustainable energy source that it can rely on long into the future.

Vanadium estimates that Everton Nurseries’ £52,000 investment will pay for itself in just over two-and-a-half years, allowing the garden centre to eliminate its electricity bills thereafter.

Simon Collyer, family director at Everton Nurseries, explained that with a very large, south-facing roof, their site was the perfect candidate for a solar installation.

The Collyers received quotes from a number of national companies - each of which uses local subcontractors, which can result in snags and delays - before contacting Vanadium.

Everton Nurseries in Hampshire
Everton Nurseries in Hampshire

"We had a recommendation from one of our suppliers who said they had used Vanadium, so we invited them to come and quote as well,” he said.

“What was really interesting for us was being able to deal with another local company, and we found it to be extremely competitive on price as well.

"Vanadium came along and inspected the site, they came up with a project that looked viable for us, and they quoted an extremely attractive payback period, which obviously is even more attractive at the moment with the high price we're paying for our electricity.

“We can see already from the amount of electricity that's being generated through the middle part of the day particularly, which is our peak consumption time, that this project looks to be an extremely viable outcome for us.”

Vanadium was founded in 2020 by friends Tom Dibben and Ben Pearcy. With backgrounds in IT and electrical engineering respectively, the two men each have a passion for renewable energy and, as Tom puts it, using their working lives to “make large scale change”.

Solar panels from Vanadium on the roof of the garden centre at Everton Nurseries
Solar panels from Vanadium on the roof of the garden centre at Everton Nurseries

The company prides itself on doing everything in-house, allowing Tom, Ben and their team of engineers to work closely with their customers to provide a bespoke solution on time and on budget.

“We're a company where you can walk into the office, say hello and have a coffee,” Tom added. “We're properly front-facing. Nice people, nice staff - that's what we're aiming for.”

In the last three years, Vanadium has worked on projects of all sizes, from domestic EV charging points and solar panels to working with farms, a vineyard, a boatyard and major clients like Volkswagen, Ducati and Hampshire Air Ambulance Service.

Tom explained: "Full turnkey is the idea, so if you need solar, battery storage, EV charging, electrical and data services, we can do all of it.

“The main thing that we get our kicks from is seeing the finished product, the customer happy, the system functioning as designed, and basically making a significant impact to their life. It’s amazing to see.”

Vanadium Technologies is looking forward to a busy 2024
Vanadium Technologies is looking forward to a busy 2024

Heading into 2024, Vanadium are looking forward to working on more major commercial projects like the one they recently completed with Everton Nurseries, with an eye on carrying out major community energy projects, like giving people in apartments access to cheap renewable energy, and large-scale solar farms.

“The name of the game is to provide good hardware, good service, and good design, and if all of those things are done, you tend to produce happy customers,” Tom said.

That’s certainly true of Simon Collyer at Everton Nurseries, who was delighted with his experience with Vanadium - from quote to completion.

“The project fitted exactly to time, which was very impressive from our point of view,” he said. “The guys who came here and worked on the project were all fantastic, and a real credit to the company. Hats off to the quality of their staff.”

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