400kW solar install: largest single-site array funded by Low Carbon Dorset

We weren’t just busy with super-sized wind turbines in Wales as 2020 came to a close. We were also putting the finishing touches to one of Dorset’s largest renewables installations.

The 400kW system we installed for William Hughes Group in Stalbridge had 40% of its capital cost funded by Low Carbon Dorset, and is the largest single-site array that the scheme has supported.

This is our third project under Dorset Council’s carbon-reduction programme, and its completion coincided with confirmation that they’d secured an additional £5m to extend the scheme into 2023.

Electricity at 3.2p per kWh

With some £100,000 in grant funding provided for the £250,000 project, the economics of self-generation were compelling. William Hughes will pay an equivalent forward buying price of just over 3p per kWh for the 25 year lifetime of the system.

This contrasts with the 9p per kWh paid on average by UK manufacturers, and between 13p and 17p paid by businesses in other sectors*.

The system will provide over 25% of the electricity used at the Stalbridge site, where William Hughes design and manufacture custom-made springs, wire forms and assemblies for the automotive and aerospace industries.

More power, less carbon

In addition to making big savings on their electricity bills, William Hughes will also save nearly 100 tonnes in CO2 emissions every year as they generate close to 400,000kWh of solar power.

This brings the total carbon savings under the Low Carbon Dorset programme to just under 4,000 tonnes a year.

Max Hughes, Managing Director of William Hughes, said: “This investment makes a strong statement about our company ethos. Based on our positive experiences, I strongly believe more businesses should follow our example to move to greener and more efficient ways of generating energy.”

Negotiating Covid

The installation was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, but then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. With the logistical restrictions of the first lockdown and the stalling of the economy in the face of such uncertainty, the project was put on hold.

As things started to improve, however, William Hughes were quick to sieze the opportunity and gave the green light to schedule the installation for October.

Now familiar with the working practices that Covid made necessary, the technical and construction teams were able to stick closely to the schedule even with the arrival of the second lockdown – and despite the complexities of fitting 1,300 PV panels across five different roof aspects.

*Source: BEIS report, September 2020


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