Solar Farmers: Cadent blazes an eco-friendly trail with first of a kind green scheme

Future of energy In your area

  • Cadent has launched its first ever solar farm to harness renewable power from the sun
  • Hundreds of solar panels will generate enough energy to power Cadent’s North Norfolk network of above ground gas installations
  • The new solar array in Norfolk will be good for both the environment and business
Britain’s largest gas distribution network Cadent has blazed a green trail with the launch of its first ever solar array.
Located at an existing Cadent site in Brisley, North Norfolk, the solar farm comprises 388 solar panels and will help deliver savings on both carbon emissions and business costs.
Already screened by trees with enough land to house the solar panels, the site is an ideal choice for the new solar farm.
Though it may not be the Mojave Desert the climate of North Norfolk is well suited to solar generation, as the panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), don’t need direct sunlight to work and can still generate electricity on a cloudy day.
Electricity generated at the new array will be fed into the local electricity distribution network, providing a clean and renewable source for energy local homes, schools, businesses and community facilities.
In addition to the significant environmental benefits Cadent will also be saving on energy costs for the site. The panels have a peak generation capacity of 130kilowatt (kW), i.e. the most electricity that can be generated at any one time. The site will generate an estimated 120megawatt (MW) hours a year. That will be enough electricity for the site and nine other above ground Cadent installations in the region. Any surplus electricity generated on top of that will enable additional revenue to be produced for the business.
Each panel has an operational lifespan of 25 years and special power optimisers which keep the array generating as efficiently as possible have also been installed. The rectifiers enable any problems with a panel to be swiftly identified and repaired without impairing efficiency of system.
Cadent Network Supervisor, Robert Davies, came up with the concept and further developed the idea with his team, who operate and maintain Cadent’s gas infrastructure in the local area.
He explained: “The concept was relatively straightforward with clear cut environmental and economic benefits.
“It took us around a year to plan and agree the project and we were then able to get it built over just a few weeks this autumn.”
Cadent provided Robert and his team additional assistance with project development helping them to secure the £160,000 funding required to make the project a reality.
Cadent worked with delivery partners Aughton Automation, who were the principle designer and contractors along with Empower Energy who were the suppliers and constructors.
Cadent Director of East Network Darren Elsom, said: “As a company Cadent is committed to being innovative, efficient and to making a positive contribution to the environment.
“This project is a textbook example of how we can do all of those things and achieve a great result.”
With the Brisley Solar Array already proving to be a resounding success, similar projects at other Cadent sites could follow in the near future.
Solar power generation in the UK has grown rapidly in the last decade and now regularly generates a fifth of the UK’s energy demand in the summer and sometimes over a quarter.
 
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Antony Quarrell

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