The Srikrishnas have added timers to turn drinks fridges off at night

The Srikrishna family hopes to slash tens of thousands of pounds a year from its electricity bill after installing solar panels at its six Budgens/Shell forecourts last year.

It is just one of a series of energy efficiency moves by the father-and-son business, which is also fitting doors on its chillers and introducing battery energy storage units.

Father Kris and son Johnny Srikrishna, who trade as the SJS Group, fitted the solar panels between May and October at their six sites from Hastings to Northampton, and expect to save £70,000 in the first 12 months.

They plan to recoup the more than £400,000 investment over five years, with their first forecourt to adopt the technology, Loddon Bridge Service Station at Lower Earley, Reading, seeing a 23% saving in electricity costs since the installation last May.

The Srikrishnas are now paying 30p per kilowatt of energy from the electricity grid, compared with 12p in 2022, with the daily standing charge also increasing dramatically, says Johnny. “With energy costs running away – now averaging a monthly £5,000 to £6,000 at each site – we needed to make efficiencies, and we have been looking at everything, including last year fitting timers to turn drinks fridges off at night,” he says.

Johnny believes that the business could make further considerable savings by installing battery units to store excess capacity in electricity generated at its sites to use later, rather than selling it to the grid at a nominal price. He is also looking into the possibility of switching electricity provider, to get a more economical night rate for electricity to store and use during peak periods.

Johnny also aims to save 60% of his chiller running costs by retrofitting the cabinets with doors. In a £250,000 store refit at their Ashdene North forecourt on the A21 between Hastings and Tunbridge Wells, the chillers were replaced with doored fridges – which will be included in future refurbishments.

Aware that its customers are making green adjustments too, SJS Group is also planning this year to introduce ultra-fast electric vehicle charging in two of its highly populated markets – the Kingston Road Service Station in Epsom and Loddon Bridge Service Station, at Lower Earley, Reading. The intention is to have at least four bays at each, and possibly six at Reading which is a larger and busier forecourt. The business is talking to chargepoint suppliers Shell, Osprey, and Gridserve, and wants a model that will give it payback within two years.

Kris set up the business in 1986 with two BP two sites at Forest Hill and Dulwich in London, which were decommissioned after 20 years in SJS Group’s ownership. Last spring, the family moved all its sites from BP to Shell.

The family’s other forecourts are Freeway Service Station, on the A5 at Weedon Bec in Northamptonshire. Budgens Ashdene South services on the A21, and Tinkerbell Service Station, Salisbury.