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A Day in the Country Case Study
- Published on Friday, 04 November 2011 17:35
A Day in the Country is an award-winning Oxfordshire estate specialising in corporate hospitality and events founded and managed since the mid 1980s by the Stephenson family. It’s also a working farm with arable crops and cattle.
Four years ago, the family started to explore renewable energy to generate electricity, reduce their bills and cut the estate’s carbon footprint. With a large acreage at their disposal and good prevailing winds, wind turbine technology was an obvious choice.
After researching suppliers, the Stephensons selected Myriad Solar for their professionalism, track record and knowledge of small wind solutions in the farming community. But concerns over sight-lines affecting the ambiance of the locality prompted the family to investigate other alternatives. Fortunately, they did not have to look too far for ideas and advice. As a Myriad CEG company Myriad Solar could provide access to a wider range of clean energy technologies, which resulted in A Day in the Country commissioning a solar photovoltaic system to solve its energy needs.
The Stephensons defined the brief to Myriad Solar in clear and simple terms: to deliver a system that would be capable of meeting 75% of their electricity demand for The Great Barn, their principal hospitality and events space within a budget of £75,000.
The installation was rapid. From a feasibility study in January this year, the solar array went into planning with South Northamptonshire Council and into consultation with Aynho Parish Council in the spring. Naturally, both were keen to ensure that the installation would maintain the quality of life and beauty of the location while enabling A Day in the Country to consistently generate clean energy from solar PV. The clarity of the information offered during site visits to the councils led to permission being immediately granted in June.
Over a ten-day period, Myriad Solar engineering team worked with A Day in the Country to install a 104-panel solar array comprising Sharp Polycrystalline 220 W panels, mounted on a Schuco ground mount system. Cabling was successfully run beneath a much-loved garden without impacting on the landscape to an out-building housing the instrumentation/control system. After rigorous testing, which ironed out tripping that can often occur in solar PV installations, the system went live on 10th August.
The installation is designed to power The Great Barn’s lighting, electric heaters and kitchen equipment, as well as any IT used by those hiring the venue for events, such as; corporate hospitality, weddings and parties. Low-energy bulbs are used for the lighting; energy-efficient heaters and kitchen appliances also contribute towards reducing the building’s energy costs and carbon footprint. However, the solar PV array is the primary driver behind cutting the costs of the company’s electricity bills, which are approximately £12,500 per annum.
A Day in the Country is six weeks into the installation, but already the projections for the system are on track. The family business confidently expects to generate the equivalent of £7,000 of its electricity use through the solar PV system. With the installation coming in on budget, that means the payback period will be short at around eight to ten years. Typically, solar panels have a lifespan of twenty-five years before they need to be replaced. This neatly brings the installation in line with the Feed-in Tariff, under which energy suppliers have to make regular payments to householders and communities who generate their own electricity from renewable or low carbon sources, such solar PV.The family will enjoy a fixed rate of 32.9p for 1 kWh inflation linked, and 3.1p export tariff based on 50% of the production that they generate for 25 years, the approximate lifetime of the system. Currently, the Stephensons are exporting electricity to their local utility company, Southern Electric.
The business has also measured its carbon footprint and estimates that the new solar PV system will save approximately 10,400 kgs of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of five return flights from London to Tokyo.
Jerry Stephenson, Managing Director of A Day in the Country, believes the project will be beneficial to business not only financially but also to demonstrate that it’s eco-friendly.“We chose a great partner in Myriad Solar. They made it easy for us to adjust our thinking from wind to solar and to make it happen.
“We were impressed with the quality and professionalism of their team at every stage, particularly in the installation when they literally worked around the clock to deliver it on time and on budget.”
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