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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Solar experts are in demand

A LISTED former cotton mill in Oldham has switched to solar energy thanks to a Cumbrian firm.

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BRIGHT IDEAS: Martin Cotterell of Sundog Energy KEVIN MURPHY

Solar energy specialists Sundog Energy overcame strict English Heritage requirements and significant wind loading challenges on the five-storey Devon Mill – which was completed in 1908 when Lancashire led the world in textile production – to transform it into what is thought to be the largest roof-top solar power station in the North.

The 143.3 kWp solar PV installation is the equivalent of 30 typical household systems.

Over 600 Trina Solar TSM-PC05 235W Multicrystalline solar modules will save around 65 tonnes of CO2 and enough energy to power the 220,000 sq ft building, with power to spare for export to the National Grid.

The Devon Mill installation will be developed into a demonstration centre for potential customers.

Bill Roberts, managing director of Sundog Energy, based in Penrith, said: “This highly-successful installation proves the viability of solar energy for historic commercial buildings with the roof space. An installation of this type gives payback in eight years or less.

“The solar PV system will last for decades. It’s been built to last, with future generations in mind – like the mill itself.

“There are many businesses using these magnificent old mill buildings, and it goes without saying that they should consider solar energy. “

For Devon Mill, Sundog used its expertise gained from complex installations on other historic sites, including the grade I listed Kings Cross Station in London, grade II listed London Transport Museum, and the 500-year-old Bradford Cathedral.

Other high-profile installations by Sundog include a 212-panel development on the roof of Mitchell’s Auction Mart in Cockermouth. The installation has allowed the company to cut its CO2 emissions by 23 tonnes a year and benefit from around £13,000 a year in subsidies.

Mitchell’s solar panels was the first in Europe to benefit from a state-of-the-art new mounting system.

The new system, from leading global solar panel manufacturer Trina Solar, has been designed to significantly speed up the installation time of Trina’s solar PV panels by reducing the number of parts and eliminating the need for traditional mounting rails.

The state-of-the-art 50kWp retro-fit installation, Cumbria’s largest commercial solar PV system to date, comprises 212 Trina Solar high-efficiency PV modules mounted on a pitched steel roof.

The system will provide enough renewable energy to light and power Mitchell’s business during the day, with surplus power being exported and sold to the national grid.

Martin Cotterell, founder and technical director of Sundog, led the installation team on site from start to finish.

He said: “We had a race against time in very testing weather conditions to complete this landmark installation before the December 12 deadline for the Feed-in Tariff, so we were really able to put the new mounting system through its paces and appreciate the very significant benefits it brings.”

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