Renewable companies in farm solar project

Two renewable energy companies have joined to develop a ’1.2 million solar PV project at a poultry farm, one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

The scheme has seen more than 2,300 panels installed in Shropshire and Mid Wales, including a 150 metres-long ground array of 1,200 panels at Comberton Poultry Farm in Ludlow.

The solar photovoltaic system, which also included 60 metre long arrays of around 1,100 panels on the roofs of three poultry sheds, was supplied by Welshpool-based Organic Energy and installed by 7 Energy.

Andy Boroughs, managing director of Organic Energy, said: ’Working with 7 Energy, we have been able to develop a bespoke solar PV system, with the Ludlow site the single biggest installation ever created in Shropshire and we believe the Powys array is probably the largest in Mid Wales too.

’We provided more than 2,300 SCHOTT Solar PV panels. On current readings, the system has reduced electricity usage at the sites by 65 per cent and the installation has exceeded its predicted energy capture by 10 per cent.’

Installer Martin Dowley said the total project cost for Comberton Poultry Farm and Cottage Farm, in Powys, was around ’1.2 million.

He said: ’We’re delighted with the performance of the installation, which produces around 433,472 kWh a year. The average house uses between 3000 - 4800 kWh per annum so the whole system could generate enough power for between 90 to 144 homes.

’The Ludlow site, where the buildings face east-west, was not suitable for a roof installation so we have created a ground-mounted system which consists of a single framework on a concrete base.

’At Cottage Farm, there are three roof arrays, which produce 208,400 kWh a year. We recommended SCHOTT Solar PV panels from Organic Energy, which have undergone and passed rigorous testing specifically with regard to concerns over ammonia produced in poultry and livestock sheds. These are designed to last 25 years.’

The installation should pay for itself within seven to eight years, with Mr Davies able to take advantage of the Feed-in-Tariff. The tariff pays a rate of 30.7 pence for every kWh generated as both sites were completed before the deadline after which the FIT for systems over 50 kWh was reduced.

Mr Davies, who has been rearing poultry for around 20 years, added: ’We wanted to look at renewable options to hedge our electricity costs.

’We were put in touch with Martin who assisted us with the best way forward and went down the solar route. We installed SCHOTT Solar PV panels because of their resistance to ammonia which can be an issue, and so far it’s working very well.’

Although nearly a year in the planning, once the necessary permissions had been given and groundwork completed, the full installations took three to four weeks to complete.