Posts tagged with: installation

Barnsley Football Club is to become the first in the country to be powered by solar energy.

Work will start next month installing photovoltaic panels on the roofs of two stands and the external wall of the south stand at Oakwell – enough to provide energy to for about 140 homes.

Electricity generated will be used within the ground, with any excess being fed back into the National Grid. It’s estimated it will save the club about half its electricity bills a year – equivalent to tens of thousands of pounds.

General manager Don Rowing said: “With energy costs spiraling and likely to continue that way it makes business sense to use the large amount of roof surface available to us to save the club money and also to reduce our carbon footprint.

“The icing on the cake is that the work is being done by a Barnsley company and that will help the local economy. This just shows what a green place Barnsley is and even though we are the Reds we can go green.”

Dodworth-based Solar Europa Limited is due to start work on the project, which is costing more than £1m, on May 9, with completion due in June. The panels on the south and east stands will generate about 0.5 megawatt of electricity.

The cost of the installation will be met by the company, which will recoup any money made selling electricity back to the National Grid via the Feed In Tariff.

David Hawkins, of Solar Europa, said: “I just hope that by doing this we can inspire other football clubs and other businesses to take advantage of the roofs they have. It could be a warehouse or office block roof – it doesn’t matter – it all helps cut bills and cut carbon dioxide emissions.”

Solar Europa, which manufactures its own solar panels, as well as installing them, receives business support from the Enterprising Barnsley programme.

Adrian Waite, who works for Barnsley Development Agency and Enterprising Barnsley, said: “Barnsley Development Agency provide business support to the football club and we introduced the benefits of solar power to the management team at Oakwell earlier this year.

“To their credit, Don and his staff realised the need to move fast on this opportunity, and a number of Barnsley based companies were invited to complete surveys.  We are delighted that Solar Europa has been selected for this high profile project.”

The Enterprising Barnsley programme offers business support to Barnsley businesses with growth potential. Enterprising Barnsley has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. Enterprising Barnsley also runs networking events and provides office space throughout the borough.

For more information on Solar Europa go to


Don Rowing can be contacted on 01226 211300 or or 07984 572739.

David Hawkins or his colleague Glyn Cooper can be contacted at Solar Europa on 01226 249852. David can also be contacted on

Adrian Waite can be contacted on 01226 787531 or

Additional media contact: Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07910 165 444 or at

Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield ’s Barnsley Campus. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide an integrated programme of business support. For more information on Enterprising Barnsley go to


The government has recently introduced a new certification program for sustainable energy products. Called the ‘Micro-generation Certification Scheme’ (or MCS), the program is designed to protect customers by ensuring good quality in both products and installation. The scheme works by putting manufacturers and installers through an inspection process in which the applicant has to demonstrate a certain level of competency in the technology they offer, provide a documented, quality management process and show an example of a finished product or installation. In order to incentivize the industry to sign up to the certification scheme, the government has declared that customers may only apply for grants or feed-in-tariffs if their system is entirely covered by MCS which means there is little point in buying an installation without MCS accreditation.

Preventing cowboys from entering green-industry and exploiting customers trying to do their bit for the environment is essential. However, concerns have been raised regarding the real impact of the scheme on customers and regarding the credibility of the certification process itself.

Since this is, let’s look at the certification requirements for solar energy as an example. In order to claim the UK solar feed-in-tariff arriving next April, you have to install solar panels that have been through the MCS process. At this stage however, few manufacturers have obtained MCS accreditation for their products. In many cases it is simply because they haven’t heard of the UK’s MCS program yet. In other cases, manufacturers who have been told about the scheme may not immediately decide to go for it. To get accredited, you have to pay a private certification center (that in turn has been ‘accredited’ by the MCS administrators) to inspect its product and facilities. This is a costly and time-consuming process. In many cases, someone from the accreditation center has to be flown (at the expense of the manufacturer) to a factory in Europe or Asia so that it can be ‘inspected’ often by someone with little or no experience of the photovoltaic industry. Once you have MCS, the rewards for manufacturers are not clear. In the world of solar energy the UK barely even registers. I am often met with surprise (or worse still, laughter) when I say I’m from the UK at solar conferences. The German market will be over 200 times greater than the UK market this year. There is not a single ground mounted PV power plant in the UK. This means there is no guarantee that investment in MCS will be worthwhile.

The second issue is that certification processes for solar modules already exist. The most prominent is the IEC certification process that can be administered only by a handful or institutions worldwide. This is a rigorous performance and reliability procedure that tests the energy output of a solar panel under controlled conditions, and puts it through a large number of stress tests. These include the damp-heat test (thermal cycling in a humid chamber) and the hail-test (bombarding the module with pellets of ice fired from a canon). IEC tests are designed and continually improved by a committee of international solar energy experts. Wisely, the MCS recognizes IEC accreditation and requires it as part of its inspection. This does lead to the amusing situation where a UK inspector will visit mulit-billion dollar factory that has been supplying solar panels to the rest of the world under the IEC has ‘approve’ that everything in order.

In a photovoltaic system, there are many different components besides the solar panel, however MCS applies only to the solar panel. This is hard to explain. The other expensive part of a PV system is the inverter, which converts the direct current produced by the solar panels into mains 50Hz alternating current so it can be used by most appliances in a building or sold to the grid. The inverter is therefore critical to the good functioning of a system and is known to be significantly less reliable than solar panels which are normally guaranteed for 20 years compared to just 10 for the inverter. Why then is the inverter not covered by MCS?

The MCS for installers in the UK has a clearer role. Many people are familiar with cowboy builders or decorators providing shoddy service, and MCS could be an excellent way to reduce this. Questions remain about the implications for accessibility of micro-generation however. Does MCS mean that a competent DIYer interested in building their own micro-generation system is denied access to government support because they haven’t forked out for an MCS installer?

The main concern is that MCS reduces the amount of competition in the UK, limiting the choice consumers have when it comes to products and installers. Prices of Solar PV systems in the UK are already shockingly high compared to Germany (up to twice the price) and MCS risks being a barrier to entry so that certain manufacturers can now charge even higher prices to UK customers. The MCS could be hurting those it is designed to protect, to the benefit of the manufacturers and installers already within its program.

Certainly the intentions of the MCS are good and with time it could play a key role. The MCS needs to be very careful however not to stunt the growth of the UK solar industry from its current insignificant size. The biggest barrier to that growth is cost, so any measures that may increase costs to the end customer must be rigorously justified.