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Virgin Balloons Pilot Produces Green Energy For 50 Homes

Our pilot Tim Parker in Essex started producing renewable energy six years ago, on the farm where he has grown up.

He decided to share his story about this other passion of his with us.

The solar panels on his farm provide enough energy to supply 50 homes all year around.

Born and raised on his parents' farm in Essex, which he now runs, Tim flies for us in the same area.

We are currently the only hot air balloons operator providing passenger flights in Essex.

If you see our big hot air balloon in the skies over the area, give us a wave.

As concerns about the natural environment are on many people’s minds nowadays, Tim agreed to talk about his journey in discovering renewable energy.

700 Solar Panels Installed In Two Years

A few years ago, he learnt about the European energy target for 2020.

The Renewable Energy Directive set out for 20% of the energy needs in the EU to be produced through renewable means.

Despite a number of different schemes being available, Tim decided to fund his own panels. He says:

“Europe was a good drive for the production of green energy. These initiatives were Europe-led.”

It took him nearly two years to install and run over 700 panels.

They now supply his farm and house with all the energy they need.

Whatever he produces extra goes back into the National Grid.

Tim and his family do not burn any oil, gas, or coal in their house.

“It’s a case of looking after the environment. If I can do this and make it viable, I wanted to push it. It is worth it. You can make more money on a farm if you grow crops through modern technologies, yes. But I wanted to take this further step.”

"Farming Keeps Evolving All The Time"

Tim Parker hasn’t stopped at this first step though in regards to environmental concerns.

Now he is also participating in the Natural England scheme.

A government advisor for the natural environment in England, this organisation encourages farmers to allow pockets of wildlife on their lands.

He joined the scheme one year ago, and he says he can already see results.

“By keeping these pockets, we are revitalising the wildlife – from hedgerow birds, to owls, kestrels and hedgehogs. We have already seen a remarkable amount of extra wildlife coming back in just one year.”

Having grown up on his parents’ farm, together with his brother and two sisters, Tim is now raising his own family here.

He hopes his two children will one day take over the farm from him.

Thinking back at his childhood, he considers how much things have changed on the family farm. He says:

“Things have changed a lot since my parents’ were running it. Farming keeps evolving all the time. They would not have done what I am doing now."

His philosophy around contemporary farming is simple, and he hopes to pass it on to his children.

“You have to spot these things, and do them if viable. You have to understand how farms today need to diversify in terms of use of resources. This is the way forward”