A newly completed photovoltaic solar panel electricity generation scheme for farmer and store keeper Colin Godwin at Keysley Farm, Monkton Deverill, is now the largest privately-owned installation in south-west England. It has also resulted in Keysley’s commercial grain store becoming the first in the UK to become electrically-sufficient in energy.
Although situated in Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the scheme has been endorsed by the local AONB officer as well as Wiltshire Council.
T H White Energy has installed 1,125 solar panels on the south-west facing roofs of the 26,400-tonne grain store, that was itself a project partly undertaken by T H White last year. The array covers an area equal to 25 cricket pitches and is expected to generate 216,000kWh of electricity per year. That’s sufficient to light up Swindon every night for a month, or to put it another way, it’s enough energy to blast a large 1,000kg estate car into orbit.
The electricity generated by the 270kWp installation will power intake drying and cooling for the entire 26,400 tons grain capacity at the store, which handles feed wheat and oilseed rape exclusively for Openfield – Britain’s largest farmer-owned grain marketing and arable input co-operative. Today the store serves more than 80 Openfield farmers and T H White was one of the businesses involved in its expansion during 2010 with partial funding from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
It is expected that the scheme will also save over 105 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to annual power consumption of 45 houses, the carbon footprint of a passenger making 16 return flights from London to New Zealand, a fully-laden Boeing 777 flying from London to Cairo, or travelling 350,000 miles in a car – equal to driving eight and a half times around the world on existing roads!
As Keysley Farm sits in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) extra care was taken over the appearance of the scheme. Kyocera panels were chosen due not only to their excellent performance and warranty, but also because they are black cells mounted within a black frame. Also, contrary to popular thinking about solar PV panels, they actually reflect very little light.
Cranborne Chase AONB officer Richard Burden said: “The use of black panels on the roof of Keysley Farm’s grain store has actually reduced the visual impact of the building in the landscape. Schemes such as this which generate renewable energy and help to ensure that the area is sustained as a vibrant, living, working landscape are very much in keeping with the conservation objectives of the AONB.”
The scheme was also endorsed by the Energy Change and Opportunity (ECO) Team at Wiltshire Council. Senior Climate Change Officer Vincent Albano said: “Schemes like this will make a valuable contribution to the installed renewable energy capacity for Wiltshire.”
It is anticipated that the solar PV installation at Keysley Farm will cover its costs within eight years and has an operational life expectancy of at least 25 years.
T H White Energy is part of the T H White Handling & Storage Division which specialises in bulk grain storage and processing. Other diverse areas of T H White’s business encompass agricultural, dairy and grasscare equipment, Land Rover and Subaru vehicles, Palfinger lorry cranes, construction equipment and security and fire protection systems.
Photo call: There will be an opportunity to visit the solar PV panel installation at Keysley Farm on Thursday 7 July. Key personnel will be on site for interview. If you would like to attend please call Bernard Franklin on 07901 115034.
Note to editors: High resolution photographs are available. Call Adrian Knowles on 01225 780056.
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