A selection of some of Ownergy's farm installations
Andrew Ingram, Watlington, Oxfordshire
As a firm advocate of renewable energy for a number of years, there was little doubt in Andrew Ingram’s mind that he would invest in a solar array under the new Feed-In Tariffs scheme at his farm in Watlington, Oxfordshire. However, his decision to invest was not driven out of a simple desire to support environmental sustainability but with a careful eye on the financial return and the greater energy security he can enjoy.
Certainly, the solar photovoltaic array installed on one of Andrew Ingram’s barns is impressive both in terms of its size and the financial return it will generate. In total it is a 156 panel, 28kW system that initial calculations show an achievable return of £280,000 over the next 25 years. This will provide Mr Ingram with an annual return of approximately 10.5%.
As a Christmas Tree farmer, growing 15,000 trees a year, Mr Ingram has several large storage buildings on his 750 acre farm in the Chilterns. The barn on which the solar array is installed is the building actually used for the storage of the trees. It is a 50 metre long building with one aspect of the roof facing almost perfectly south.
The system went operational at the end of May 2010, just two months after the Feed-In Tariffs went live. Blessed with a particularly sunny June, the system actually outperformed initial calculations in its first full month of operation.
As a 28kW system which should on average generate 23,500kW of electricity a year, the system is in the 10-100kW Feed-In Tariffs band. As such, Mr Ingram will be paid 31.4p/kWh for the electricity he generates plus an additional 3p/kWh for any surplus that is exported back to the grid.
Commenting on his installation, Mr Ingram said: “I have been investing in renewable energy for the farm for a number of years, but until the Feed-In Tariffs were introduced, renewable electricity generation just did not make sense financially. However, the new tariffs have slashed the payback time from approximately 35 years to about ten to twelve years, delivering an impressive financial return. At the same time, with energy prices rising and the potential for shortages of supply an increasingly likely possibility, the system gives the comfort of greater control of my own energy.
“What finally persuaded me though, was the confident and professional approach Ownergy brought with them. Of all the companies I spoke with, Ownergy were the only ones to calmly take on the challenges of the site and offer a roof-mounted system instead of a simpler ground mounted system which was of less appeal to me due to the necessary loss of land. Ownergy just took it in their stride, sourced the right specialists and got the job done. Because of this, the system is now doing exactly what the Ownergy team said it would in terms of performance, which is fantastic.”