Portfolio Archive

Knowles Transport halves electricity costs

Most w
arehouses fulfil the two most important criteria for benefiting financially from rooftop solar installations: they have plenty of unused but accessible rooftop space, and consume significant quantities of power during day-to-day operation.

Warehouse solar panelsIn just over 80 years, Knowles Transport has grown from a single vehicle, delivering agricultural produce from the Cambridgeshire countryside to the London markets, into one of the UK’s largest and most well-known warehousing and distribution companies, with over 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space. Knowles offers a 24-hour delivery service for any palletised product, still focussing chiefly on the foodstuffs and agricultural sectors.

Like others in the industry, Knowles finds itself under constant pressure to reduce both operating costs and the company’s carbon footprint — and, in particular, to perform well in energy audits.

Solar electricity is much cheaper than that supplied by utility companies, and attracts a government-backed renewable energy feed-in tariff (FiT) per kWh produced, even when it is used on site. In effect, the operator is paid twice for the same solar energy: once in savings on electricity bills and again in FiT revenue. Once initiated, FiT payments are guaranteed for 20 years and linked to the retail index price (RPI), so can be expected to increase each year. Excess electricity that cannot be consumed on site is fed into the grid, attracting both export tariffs and FiT revenue.

Installing warehouse solar panels

Following a tender process, BELECTRIC UK was asked install solar panels at Knowles headquarters and warehouse in March, Cambridgeshire. Data analysis indicated that a 200 kWp (kilowatt peak) rated project would be the best fit with the site’s on-site energy use profile. The 200 kWp capacity was divided into two separate systems — 150 kWp to feed into the warehouse and 50 kWp to power the HQ offices — to take fullest advantage of the scaled FiT scheme in place at the time.

Phased installation and commissioning of the two systems took around three weeks in total and was completed to schedule, with no disruption to the facilities’ operations. The two solar rooftops used REC multicrystalline silicon cells due to their tolerance to harsh environmental conditions and high energy conversion efficiency. The mounting and cabling systems were based on BELECTRIC’s in-house developed technology.

After the system was commissioned, Knowles saw an immediate and dramatic reduction in energy costs of around 50%.

Pre-installation, the two systems were expected to produce a total of 192,000 kWh of clean solar electricity per year, resulting in estimated utility cost savings of £21,000 and combined FiT and export revenues of £21,500. In the first year of operation the solar rooftops have performed even better than this, producing energy yields, savings and revenues around 5% higher than estimated.

Knowles opted to finance the entire solar installation itself, so receives all electricity, FiT payments and export revenues directly. The company can expect to recover its initial investment from these receipts in less than five years, while the system itself is projected to continue producing energy over a 25-year period.

Alex Knowles, Director of Knowles Transport, commented:

“From the first meeting, BELECTRIC UK showed professionalism and in-depth technical knowledge, setting aside any concerns we had about investing significant expenditure into a new area. The project was completed efficiently and effectively in the timescale originally proposed by our BELECTRIC project manager. After installation the customer care was and continues to be exemplary.”

For warehouse operators reluctant to invest upfront, alternative financial arrangements are available.

Almost all the energy generated at Knowles HQ has been used on site, with only about 5% exported to the grid. Because on-site energy cost savings are significantly greater than export tariffs for excess energy production, this represents the most cost efficient way of operating the facility. While the Knowles warehouse is a largely ambient temperature facility, operators of chill storage warehouses with higher on-site energy use could expect to gain greater financial benefit from installing larger-capacity solar systems, subject to local grid capacity availability.

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AKP Group

Commercial Solar Rooftop System, Brigg, Lincolnshire

AKP Group commercial solar rooftopPotato grower and supplier AKP Group partnered with Siemens Financial Services and BELECTRIC UK to install a large (193 kWp) rooftop solar photovoltaic array at its new headquarters and chill store in North Lincolnshire. The system uses 742 solar panels set on roof-mounted rails, and now generates more than 160,500 kWh of electricity per year. The power is fed directly into the chill storage unit, which has to be maintained at a temperature of approximately 3°C. In a perfect match of supply and demand, the chill store gets the extra power it needs to keep the produce fresh when it most needs it, i.e. when the sun is at its strongest. The system will reduce annual CO2 emissions by 96 tonnes.

The project was financed via the Energy Efficiency Financing (EEF) scheme, a joint initiative between the Carbon Trust and Siemens Financial Services Limited (SFS) providing finance for energy efficient equipment for businesses.

Ben Mordue, Operations Director, AKP Group:

“At AKP Group we strive to reduce our impact on the environment by reducing our carbon footprint. By using BELECTRIC UK as our supplier, it has proved very straightforward and efficient installing a solar power system. Their professional workforce and site cleanliness were great and disruption to our work pattern was kept to a minimum.”

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AKP Group solar rooftop – case study



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Lakeside Energy from Waste

Lakeside Energy from Waste, Colnbrook, BerksCommercial Solar Rooftop System, Colnbrook, Berkshire 

Lakeside Energy from Waste is a joint venture between Grundon Waste Management and Viridor. Situated close to Heathrow Terminal 5, the facility consumes London’s non-recyclable waste to generate 37 MW of electricity. Lakeside EFW is constantly innovating and seeking to improve its environmental credentials. BELECTRIC UK was chosen to construct a 250 kWp solar PV system on the Lakeside rooftop with the express purpose of powering this flagship facility.

The Lakeside EFW rooftop system won the Commercial Rooftop Installation Award at the Solar UK Industry Awards 2014.

Danny Coulston, Director of Operations at Lakeside:

“Although the Lakeside Energy from Waste facility has been running for four years now, we are continuously trying to maximise operating efficiency – particularly the amount of energy we use. We were surprised to learn that even in the UK, which is not known for brilliant weather, solar energy technology performs really well, and now generates the energy we need to run the plant operations. This was not a straightforward job because the curvature of the roof meant that very close attention had to be paid to health and safety. The BELECTRIC team worked very closely with us in this challenging environment and did an excellent job.”

Lakeside Energy From Waste facilityPDF_iconLakeside Energy from Waste Case Study


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Pitched solar roof cuts electricity bill by 67%

Pitched solar roof at Invicta, Ramsgate

Invicta Produce, located in the “garden of England” near Ramsgate, Kent, is a supplier of top-quality vegetables. The local microclimate of mild winters and summer sea breezes is perfect not only for vegetable growing, but also for solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generation. Even better, the Invicta facility’s pitched roof faces east and west, allowing solar modules to capture energy for more hours of the day than south facing installations – and thus better match the daily pattern of on-site energy demand.

BELECTRIC UK specified and installed REC 260W crystalline silicon solar modules due to their high efficiency. As required by the client contract, installation caused no interruption to Invicta’s operations thanks to efficient traffic management. BELECTRIC UK completed the work within 10 days, ahead of the agreed schedule.

Colin Williams, Proprietor, Invicta Produce, said:

“BELECTRIC UK’s experience and considerable assistance has been essential to navigating complex areas like sorting our export meter fitting, appointing meter operators, FIT (feed-in tariff) payment provision with our electricity supplier, and liaising with Ofgem. I cannot thank them enough for this support. Our electricity bills have been reduced by two-thirds from day one, and we would not hesitate to recommend BELECTRIC UK to any company considering a solar installation.

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Invicta REC solar rooftop – case study

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CIS solar rooftop yields more power than expected

Solar Rooftop at Batleys

Batleys, a leading UK cash-and-carry group with some 63 depots nationwide, wanted to maximise the energy ouput from a depot rooftop in Gillingham, Kent, in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on the National Grid. BELECTRIC UK was asked to carry out a solar energy feasibility study.

BELECTRIC recommended using a thin-film photovoltaic installation using CIS solar technology from Solar Frontier of Japan. CIS (copper, indium, selenium) modules offer a higher power conversion ratio than conventional crystalline silicon modules, and exhibit the so-called “light soaking” effect, whereby conversion efficiency increases after 50 hours’ exposure to sunlight. Power output is therefore actually higher than the nameplate capacity would suggest. Thanks to BELECTRIC’s intelligent design, planning and installation, the new CIS solar system has generated 10% more energy than initial simulations predicted.
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Batleys CIS solar rooftop – case study

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Wadebridge Solar Farm

Wadebridge, Cornwall

This UK Solar Farm in located in Wadebridge, Cornwall.  BELECTRIC designed, built and commissioned the Wadebridge Solar Farm on schedule and in time to qualify for the March 2013 ROC subsidy deadline.  We optimised the system setup with SMA inverters to ensure the best possible system performance, with an average performance of 87.5%. We also installed a harmonious Padcon monitoring system allowing both us and the customer to view the system’s output and performance remotely.



Andrew Hawkey, Farmer Commented:

“As a sheep farmer I am very happy to be able to continue grazing my livestock within the same fields amongst the rows of panels, with minimal loss of agricultural land (as are my sheep). My sheep keep the site looking fantastic and prevent any overgrowth shading of the panels. My cottage accommodation benefited significantly through the out of season weeks by housing BELECTRIC’s construction staff during construction staff during the build. They worked long hours and were courteous, efficient and a fantastic workforce to have staying on site. BELECTRIC’s on-site management was exemplary and they regularly kept me in the loop with project developments.”

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KTC Edibles

Commercial solar rooftop system, Wednesbury, West Midlands

KTC Edibles, Wednesbury

KTC Edibles supplies over 250 million litres of high-quality cooking oils and fats to the food industry each year. The company wanted to reduce its exposure to rising energy costs and contribute towards CSR goals through the deployment of solar power on its commercial rooftop.

KTC accepted our proposal for a custom designed polycrystalline solar photovoltaic system and our recommendation to use high-capacity REC Peak-Energy Series PV modules, which produce a high return in terms of energy generated on a cost effective investment.

This investment into renewable energy was a big leap forward for KTC Edibles. The company considered financing the system itself but, on consideration, adopted our suggestion of preserving operational cash flow by choosing 100% upfront finance via the Energy Efficiency Financing (EEF) scheme, a joint initiative between the Carbon Trust and Siemens Financial Services Limited (SFS). In EEF, the expected savings in energy costs offset the monthly equipment finance costs, effectively making the investment zero net cost or even cash positive. Prior to finance being approved, the Carbon Trust conducted an independent energy savings assessment to verify that the energy savings expected by BELECTRIC would match or exceed the equipment finance payments. Once the solar modules were installed, KTC was able to start saving on its energy bills immediately.

KTC’s 250 kWp solar rooftop has achieved combined revenues and savings on electricity bills of nearly £40,000 per year, while simultaneously reducing the company’s carbon footprint by an estimated 124,000 kilograms of emissions offset per year — in line with its environmental targets.

KTC uses 100% of the energy produced by its solar power system. The fact that the energy is consumed in house, rather than exported to the grid, boosts the profitability of the system greatly.

Paresh Mehta, Commercial Director, KTC Edibles:

“BELECTRIC were extremely professional. There was no disruption to our core business and no downtime on production. They were the key partner we were looking for to implement this project. The solar power system lowers the carbon footprint of our business and significantly contributes towards our CSR, community and environmental targets while providing a noticeable reduction to our energy bills.”

KTC Edibles solar rooftop

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Power-Sprays commercial solar rooftopPower-Sprays met with BELECTRIC UK at the Solar Energy UK event in October 2013. With their flat roof soon to be re-surfaced, this offered up an opportune time period to also have a solar PV system installed, making the best use of existing scaffolding & plant onsite. BELECTRIC designed a system that would best match the client’s onsite energy demand, and would also not harm the client’s brand new roof surface.

The non-penetrative PlanTec system orientates modules east and west, producing marginally less maximum power than a typical 50kWp system, but spread out longer across the day. This generates a higher return for Power-Sprays by consuming more of the solar energy with onsite activity further lowering their energy bill, instead of unfavourably sending the same energy to the grid for less subsidy.

“The whole installation was carried out with care and attention from the first team that arrived installing the panels to the last team commissioning the system. The site was left clean and tidy with the system working well, to date we have produced nearly 10 MWh of electricity. We are very pleased with the system that was designed and installed and would highly recommend the BELECTRIC UK team.”

Julian Thompson, Works Manager, Power-Sprays


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Holton Solar Farm

Holton Solar Farm was constructed on Holton Airfield, approximately 1.5 miles to the north east of Halesworth. The site comprises two sections of a disused airfield built during World War II as RAF Halesworth. Planning was approved for the site with no objections from
the local community. The site has good existing levels of screening and further biodiversity enhancement measures will be implemented following commissioning of the project. During the operational stage, BELECTRIC UK will establish species-rich grassland areas under and around the solar panels.

holton airfield_halesworth_aerial


The Planning Committee Report concluded:

“There is no doubt that this will be significant development. Landscape impact is likely to be the most critical issue, but the site is relatively well screened and this, together with the topography and the potential for mitigation, means that it is not considered
that this will be particularly significant”.

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Haslingfield Solar Farm

Haslingfield Solar Farm

Haslingfield Solar Farm is located on Cantelupe Farm near the village of Haslingfield in Cambridgeshire, appropriately sited away from public viewpoints. The local community acknowledged the net biodiversity and community gains of the project, which included the installation of a 3kW solar unit on a community building near the farm. Planning permission for the Haslingfield Solar Farm was granted in April 2011 with no major objections.

System Size: 5MWp – sufficient to power 1,553 average UK households.

Haslingfield Solar Farm was commissioned in 2013 after a construction period of just seven weeks.

Richard Pemberton, owner of Cantelupe Farm, said:

“I have been working closely with BELECTRIC since 2012 to construct a 5MW solar farm.  Despite the atrocious weather conditions during the construction phase, the staff worked long hours and were always courteous, tidy and reliable. BELECTRIC’s on site management was diligent and regular communication was gratefully received.

“The best testimonial that I can give is that we are now about to undertake a rooftop solar scheme and will be using BELECTRIC for the planning, accreditation and construction of this scheme.”

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Willersey Solar Farm

Rainbows Solar Farm is located just to the north-west of the village of Willersey, Gloucestershire. Set back off the road and surrounded by existing hedgerows, the site is well screened. Following consultation with the local community, BELECTRIC reduced the size of the project to avoid development along the most exposed edge of the site. Furthermore, the use of thin film, frameless modules helped to minimise the impact of long-distance views from the Cotswold Escarpment (part of the AONB).



As part of BELECTRIC’s commitment to providing environmental enhancements on our sites, an extensive planting plan will be implemented at Willersey Solar Farm, which includes planting sections of wild-flower meadows , installing bee-hives and bird boxes.

“It was a pleasure to work with BELECTRIC UK throughout the development process. They delivered at each stage including achieving planning consent in a notoriously difficult area and delivering the highest construction standards within a clearly defined
programme. I would recommend them to any landowner looking for a market leading developer to manage the whole solar farm lifecycle.”

Ronan Lynch, Landowner


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