Sun shines on Sharpham’s new solar energy project
Following a herculean effort from all involved, the Sharpham Trust’s second major renewable energy project, making electricity powered by the sun, started generating its first kilowatts on 2nd March.
The project, the installation of a 48-kilowatt photo-voltaic peak array on the roof of a new agricultural building (right), is at Upper Sharpham Barton farm on the Sharpham Estate at Ashprington, near Totnes. The new array will produce about a fifth of the total power that the Estate uses in a year.
Trust Director, Chris Nicholls said, "We are delighted to see this installation complete. It fits with our overall plans to be more resilient and current funding support means it will also produce much needed income for the Trust’s charitable activities.
“The Sharpham Trustees can take great credit for pushing this project through when the Government’s recent support for renewable energy has been so uncertain.”
Chairman of the Trust, William Lana, went on to say "This project is a real embodiment of our ideals; renewable and sustainable, economically sensible and low impact. We will use it in our educational work to demonstrate what can be done."
Charlie Taylor, Director of Land and Property Consultants of Totnes, the project managers for the new installation, reported, "It was nip and tuck to get this project completed in time to secure the most favourable tariff payments but the Trust showed a steely determination when other clients have pulled out. I am delighted that it looks like they will reap the benefits with a good return on their investment."
The Trust used local groundworkers and building firms in the building’s construction. "They have been fantastic and pulled out all the stops to get the job done in time," said Charlie talking about Russell Soper from RJS Agricultural Welding, who built the barn.
Following a competitive tendering process, Exeter-based, Sunflower Solar Solutions Ltd was commissioned to undertake the work. Charlie said, "It’s good to use local firms as much as possible and keep the money within our local economy."
The first major renewable energy project the Trust installed in 2008 was a large woodchip boiler system in the main house. Recently it added a combined wood fuel and solar thermal heating system at its Barn Retreat Centre.
The Sharpham Estate aspires to balance its electricity consumption with on-site production and is considering ways to reduce its demand for power as well as other opportunities and locations to create an energy neutral economy on its 550-acre holding. Photo: The photo-voltaic peak array on the roof
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