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We have recently completed a large rooftop solar panel installation for a college based in County Durham as part of a £4m capital investment programme.

Project Details
System Size
253.38 kWp
No. of Panels
Annual Generation
227,218 kWh
Co2 Emissions Avoided
44,383 kg/year

Bishop Auckland College is a further education provider located in the town of Bishop Auckland. It offers students a comprehensive programme of full-time courses and apprenticeships in a wide range of disciplines and also provides a full range of adult education at its Bishop Auckland campus and many venues in the community.

From the 2021/22 academic year, the college chose to redouble its commitment to addressing the climate emergency agenda and used the Climate Action Roadmap for Further Education Colleges as a route towards achieving net zero emissions.

All operations were reviewed to help achieve the initial target of a 15% reduction in their carbon footprint by 2025. Having carried out an independent energy and carbon report to find out the size of their footprint, the college decided to look at and implement measures to reduce this. Leaders also wanted to reduce their energy costs and reliance on energy from the grid, and investigated installing solar panels.

The college looked into the types of financial help available to pay for environmental and sustainability projects and was able to get Capital Grant Funding.

After inviting four companies to present their proposals to install solar to their Bishop Auckland premises, the contract was awarded to AR Power.

As the designs were already created by our in-house design and technical team for the initial presentation, our operations teams began to order equipment and plan a potential date with the college for the installation to take place.

On the agreed date, the scaffolding started to go up, equipment delivered and our teams began to install the commercial solar PV system later that week. We used a boom lift to safely get the cables down from the roof to go into the inverter room, enclosing them with HDG tray and HDG lids for protection, and the weather conditions made the installation a little challenging at times.

Solar Inverters at Bishop Auckland CollegeSafety is paramount at AR Power and as an extra precautionary measure, we have installed a firefighter gateway which works with the fire alarm so if there is a fire on site, the solar PV system is automatically shut off. We have also added an emergency stop button to the system so firefighters can ensure the whole system is inactive before attending to any emergencies.

There are a lot of birds in the area and their droppings can significantly reduce the amount of energy the system can produce if they soil the panels. We included the installation of an audible bird deterrent system as part of the installation to help combat this, which should also minimise the amount of cleaning needed in the future.

This was a 253.38kWp SolarEdge system, made up of 618 panels which would generate 227,218 kWh of energy per year. The college would consume 86.2% of the energy generated by the panels and benefit from sending the remainder back to the grid.

The independent report estimated that the college was generating 647,727.81kgs of CO2 per year, however the solar PV system would help them reduce this number by 44,383kgs every year massively contributing to helping them achieve their Net Zero targets.

Adam Black with StudentsWhile were at the college, our project manager Adam Black met with some of the construction and engineering students where he talked about all things solar including his career right from his apprenticeship through to his current position, and how his transferable skills were the most important factor in securing his role at AR Power.

Adam said: “We are very mindful of STEM at AR Power and it is vital that we as a company do everything we can to inspire and engage the students of today, tomorrow, and the future, hopefully bringing the next generation of renewable energy professionals into the industry. Without them, we are unable to carry on our work in creating a more sustainable future for everyone.”
Overall the project went really smoothly and we received some excellent feedback from the college.

Clare Groves, Director of Service Standards and Safeguarding Lead at the college, said: “The team were very professional and really couldn’t fault anything. There were no disruptions to the day- to- day operations at the college. There were parts of the install that took place outside of college hours but we were given plenty of notice and the communication via the project manager was excellent. I was kept informed at all stages of the install and I would highly recommend AR Power to anyone looking to install solar.”

Please get in touch with us today if you would like to find out how much money you can save and carbon you can offset by installing solar to your school, college or university.

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