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Farming the sun's energy!

Design and installation of Solar PV panels at two poultry farms in Shropshire and Powys - October 2011

The Client

7 Energy Solay PV panel system at Comburton Poultry Farms in Ludlow Shropshire and PowysThe incredibly impressive array of Solar PV panels designed and installed by 7 Energy at Comberton Farm Ludlow Shropshire

Farmer Edward Davies has run a poultry rearing business at farms in Shropshire and Powys for more than 20 years. The business was looking to renewables to provide a solution to rising energy costs and had initially considered both wind turbines and solar photovoltaic systems.

The business recognised its energy bills were only going to rise as electricity prices increased. It also needed to source a system that would have longevity, considering the issues and concerns surrounding the potential risk to the resilience of solar PV panels and components caused by ammonia produced in poultry sheds. The installation contract was won by Shropshire
company 7 Energy, with Solar PV panels provided by Organic Energy, of Welshpool.

The Brief

7 Enegy designed and installed roof mounted solar panels at the Powys location of Comburton FarmEqually impressive, at the second site in Powys, are the roof mounted solar panels for the poultry farm

The farm was spending around £20,000 a year on energy at each site and wanted to reduce its costs as well as take advantage of the Feed-in-Tariff. The brief was to determine the most cost effective option to provide renewable energy to supply Comberton Poultry Farm in Ludlow, Shropshire and Cottage Farm, near Presteigne, Powys.

The business required installations at both sites that would not only attract the Feed-in-Tariff but be completed before the August 1 2011 deadline after which the FiT for systems over 50 kW was reduced.

Anticipated challenges included possible time days due to planning permission being required from two different local authorities in Powys and Shropshire; whether the roof-space would bear the load of the installation; the east-west facing roof on the Shropshire site with solar PV requiring a south facing array and whether the existing network was equipped to take the increase in power resulting from the installations.

The Solution

7 Energy Solar PV experts in Shropshire and Powys

7 Energy has designed and installed a Solar PV system at both sites. The Comberton Poultry Farm is the largest single installation completed in Shropshire.

Due to resistance to wind turbine projects by the local community and possible planning issues, a solar PV installation was recommended using Organic Energy Solar PV panels, which have undergone and passed rigorous testing specifically with regard to concerns over ammonia produced in poultry and livestock sheds. These are designed to last 25 years. The project has seen 2,310 panels (225Wp Panels) installed, which should produce around 431,970 kWh a year. Each individual panel will produce 187 kWh per annum.

Site one, in Ludlow, where the buildings were east-west facing and therefore unsuitable for a roof installation, was deemed suitable for a ground mounted system of approximately 150m x 14 metres, which consists of a single framework fixed to the ground.

SMA Solar Inverters used at the Solar PV site at Comberton Farm Shropshire

Solar Inverters at Comberton Farm Shropshire

A concrete base was created for the system which will produce 225,072 kWh per year. The farm also had a bank at the rear of the site which was partially utilised to get the tilt angle required. Working with the local network, 7 Energy moved the meter point, which was necessary for the grid to take the increase in power.

Site two in Powys was a roof-based installation with the PV array being fitted to three poultry sheds. The approximate size of each array per roof was 60m x 10m. 7 Energy also designed a support system on the roof for the installation to ensure effective load-bearing and a sprinkler system to clean the panels of any dust created from the installation's fans, therefore maintaining the efficiency of the arrays. Site two will produce 208,400 kWh a year.

Although nearly a year in the planning, once the necessary permissions had been given and groundwork completed, the full installations took three to four weeks to complete.


7 Energy Martin Dowley at Comberton Farm Shropshire with the largest Solar PV installation in the countyFarmer Edward Davies with installer Martin
Dowley, of 7 Energy, at the Shropshire site at Comberton Farm.

Based on current readings, the PV system has reduced electricity usage at the sites by 65 per cent and the installation has exceeded its predicted energy capture by 10 per cent.

The average house uses between 3000 - 4800 kWh per annum so the whole system could generate enough power for between 90 and 144 homes.

The installation attracts the Feed-in-Tariff at a rate of 30.7 pence for every kWh generated. Both sites were completed before the August 1 deadline after which the FIT for systems over 50 kWh was reduced. The project cost was in the region of £1.2 million and should pay for itself in around seven to eight years.