Case Studies

Solar Farms

Coombe Farm

Careful installation planning enables Solar SW to offer a competitive and professional service from quotation through to commissioning.
Each commercial solar installation has its own unique characteristics and our experience will assist in obtaining the highest outputs and financial yields.

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Agricultural: Buglers

Francis Bugler Ltd has been trading in Beaminster, Dorset for over 150 years, and moved his farm machinery business to the outskirts a few years ago. Solar South West helped to implement an agricultural solar installation.As the site had no mains gas or sewerage, this has led almost inadvertently to some self–sustaining solutions. With waste oil to dispose, they invested in a waste oil boiler, bored a hole for water and put in their own sewerage system. So when Solar PV was suggested, John Bugler did his sums and found that the commercial prospect “really stacked up”.After installing 50kWp on the company’s two south facing roofs, Buglers rented roof space from a nearby cooperative grain store. With an east–west facing roof, John had Solar SW install an additional 40kWp divided equally.

“Very impressed with Solar South West”, John didn’t stop here. His home is ½ a mile away and now has 24kWp of modules on 4 roofs. By using black modules and grey corrugated roofing, the asbestos and rusted galvanised roof has had a makeover. John says that people have commented on what a smart re–roofing job he has done, sometimes not even noticing the modules for what they are.

Agricultural: Ford Grange

Less well known than Forde Abbey itself, Forde Grange Dairy in Somerset is now the home to over 1500 milking goats. A state of the art rotary milking machine enables milking to be done by two people in just over 2 hours, with goats being milked 3 times a day.

Looking for a strong but safe investment, the Abbey contacted Solar South West for advice on planning and installing an agricultral solar system. The current rate for the feed–in–tariff was attractive and helped the diary fix and reduce their operating costs. The 304 kWp system was commissioned in May, but has recently added an additional 81kWp on another roof.

Due south facing barn roofs house 1600 Solar PV panels which will provide around 295,000kWh of energy per annum. The goats are housed immediately below the panels and so the roof lights needed to be kept un–covered, hence a slightly non–linear appearance to the array.

Though solar modules do get warm, it does not increase the temperature in the barns as the 50–100mm gap created by the mounting rails is enough to allow cooling air to dissipate the heat and thereby increase the module output.

Commercial: Wheatons

JB Wheaton & Sons is a haulage and warehousing company based at Chard Junction, Somerset. Their management, already enthusiastic about sustainable business practices, committed themselves to optimising their warehouse for solar energy.
The system was subsequently expanded to 1,200 kWp by installing a further 4,000 modules in waste ground between the warehouse and the London to Exeter railway line.

Commercial: Wydale

Wydale Plastics was formed 20 years ago in Crewkerne, Somerset when farmer Robin Wyatt decided to mould the calf feeder he had developed by the process of rotational moulding. As demand for his product grew, he invested in his own oven and started moulding for other people. Gradually the farm was converted into what it is today, employing 24 staff, running 6 ovens and making a diverse range of plastics items from cake icing kits to huge water tanks.

Rotational moulding requires a lot of energy and Managing Director Ian Veale looked into schemes to lower both the company’s energy requirements and its carbon footprint. As the roofs face almost due south, solar PV seemed the obvious answer.

The installation needed to proceed swiftly as another Feed in Tariff deadline loomed. Planning proceeded promptly, but the electrical supply, although enough for the 200 amps required at the factory was deemed not sufficient for exporting 100% of the array’s output. Wydale Plastics use all the electricity produced Monday to Friday, but export at the weekends. The solution was to install a trip switch to prevent the exported electricity exceeding its maximum allowed peak.

As the company managed to clock up over 10,000 kWh over the first 6 weeks of generation, Wydale have now decided to install thicker cable to capture all the electricity. The company already sends all its waste plastic to be chopped, reground, extruded and made into powder for reuse: they have almost no landfill waste.

“Large companies already have to comply with the CRC (carbon reduction commitment)” Ian comments, “I think it is only a matter of time before most commercial enterprises will be involved in a similar scheme. So we see this step as putting us ahead of the game: saving money long term, but also behaving responsibly as a company”.

Solar Farm: Coombe Farm

Coombe Farm
produces organic milk from 1500 hectares of their own land as well as being a centralised buyer of milk from surrounding farms. In addition to bottling of organic milk, their site houses a factory that is utilised by Yeo Valley for the production of organic yoghurt. The electricity requirements of this facility are significant.

Sited on a gentle south–facing slope, the installation produces maximum generation throughout the year as the panels are designed to have their pitch altered with the seasons (45° in the winter, to 16° in the summer).

Buoyed by the generation yield, Coombe Farm has subsequently added roof top PV and a second ground mount installation was completed in the July 2012. The total installed capacity is now 2.7MWp. Virtually all this electricity is consumed on site.