Farm solar system has 10-year payback

A LARGE solar panel installation that tracks the best available light on a farm in Dry Drayton will pay for itself in 10 years, according to the west Huntingdonshire company that supplied it.

Not only do solar installations attract Government subsidy and reduce users’ commercial consumption, but excess power can be sold to the National Grid.

So the almost 50kW ground-mounted dual-tracking system installed at Scotland Farm in Dry Drayton to generate electricity to power a very large grain store will generate guaranteed payments for 25 years via the Government’s “Feed In Tariff”, introduced a year ago.

Econergy Europe Ltd, based in Easton, which installed the five-tracker system, says the trackers can make good use of less productive areas, or land that is used by grazing stock.

The tracking system maximises the solar panels’ ability to convert sunlight into electricity. The panels are mounted on a frame that will automatically track the sun all year round, capturing much more of the solar energy available than static panels.

The electricity produced will be used by the farm to reduce its energy costs, gain a new revenue stream and lessen its carbon footprint while protecting itself against future energy price increases. Any unused electricity generated can also be sold back into the national grid.

Currently, the Feed In Tariff is between 30.7p kWh and 43.3p kWh depending on size and type of installation. In addition, all electricity exported to the national grid receives a further 3p per kWh, the firm said.

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Technical director David Cole said: “We are finding that more and more farmers and landowners are contacting us with an interest in solar trackers, and are excited about the benefits these systems offer.”

His managing director Robin Purser added: “We are proud to have supplied James Peck [of Scotland Farm] with a turnkey project, from assisting with planning and design, through to implementation and installation, all of which was completed on time, and most importantly, on budget.

“The electricity generated will either be used on site, and whatever is left over will be fed back to the grid at a profit. James can expect a return on his investment within just 10 years.”