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Specialist renewable energy company stages an impressive PV installation

7 Energy is celebrating the completion of a complex solar PV installation carried out as part of an extensive eco-build project for a specialist theatre set construction company.

The installation in Cambridgeshire will see Set-up (Scenery) Limited contribute back to the grid significant levels of energy and help it recoup the total cost of installation within just seven years.

The company, founded by Mark Wilsher in 1999, works with West End theatres, the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre. Having grown the company from its humble beginnings in a small pig shed on a friend’s farm, Mr Wilsher moved the business to a larger workshop in 2007.

The move to new premises allowed him to fulfil a long held ambition to create a low-energy building, beginning with what was essentially a big steel shed, the simplicity of which lent itself perfectly to some carefully thought about environmental features including asking Martin Dowley, of Shrewsbury-based 7 Energy, to design and install a solar PV panel array.

Mr Wilsher said: “Having insulated the building to the very highest of standards and opting for 20% rooflights to maximise daylight into the building and therefore reduce electricity usage, we want to see how we could best generate electricity on site to further reduce costs.”

The 7 Energy team were up against the clock to complete the installation and commissioning of the system in time to qualify for the highest Feed In Tariff (FIT) rate before it reduced. Additionally, the structure of the building posed some installation complications which the 7 Energy team needed to work around.

Managing Director Martin Dowley said: “It’s always exciting to work with clients who are passionate about creating environmentally friendly buildings. However, there were aspects of this project that made it a challenging one. For example, the roof had a design with which we hadn’t worked before and this issue was exacerbated by the fact that the outer skin of the roofing sheet was not to the specification normally required for such PV installations.

“We also had to design a system around the high number of skylights that had been installed to ensure we didn’t reduce the level of natural light into the building. The team rose to the challenge brilliantly and working in partnership with the team at Set Up Scenery, we completed the installation within the agreed timeframe.”

Mr Wilsher added: “When we moved to our current workshop I knew it would be perfect as an eco-build project. We pride ourselves on the quality of our build for leading theatre companies and chose our partners for this project based on a desire to ensure that they delivered us with similar levels of quality and dedication. We posed a few challenges to 7 Energy, but the team rose to those challenges and got the job done efficiently.

The fact that we’re able to export energy back to the grid means that the whole PV system will have paid for itself in less than seven years which is a fantastic result and means we’re saving money as well as helping to save the environment.”

Posted 16.08.2013