RenEnergy has been awarded the design and build contract for a 1 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) array at Cranfield University, Bedfordshire.

The project will be fully funded by the University, without any government support through the ROOFIT scheme, making this one of the first and largest subsidy-free renewable energy schemes in the country.

Damian Baker, RenEnergy MD said: ‘We are delighted to have been appointed as the solar PV contractor for such a prestigious institution. The University’s reputation for world class engineering and project management education aligns perfectly with our own values for the deployment of high-quality renewable energy solutions.’

The ground-mounted array will be situated at Cranfield Airfield, adjacent to the University’s main campus, feeding the generated energy directly into the sites 11 kV network via private wire.

Solar PV will contribute over 5% of the sites annual energy demand, not only furthering the carbon saving efforts at the University, but also providing a key renewable energy research facility for the students.

Feargal Brennan, Cranfield’s Director of Energy and Power, said: ‘Cranfield has a reputation for providing students with the opportunity to use industrial-scale facilities for education and training support. The solar farm will not only provide a new facility which can be used by students but also a sustainable, reliable and affordable energy supply to the campus.’

Key suppliers:

  • PV Modules: Hanwha Q-Cell – QPLUS 285w
  • Inverters: Fronius ECO & Symo string inverters
  • Ground mounting frame: Hi-Span
  • Transformer: Wilson

The 3,508 solar panel installation will cover an area of two hectares to the east of the main runway, and generate approximately 1,000 MWh of energy per year, sufficient to power 300 homes.

Damian Baker said: ‘We are all facing energy challenges as we try to balance the demands of growth and sustainability. Solar integrates well into existing infrastructure to provide a clean, cost-effective, long-term power solution, as is the case at Cranfield, where our solar array will interact with the combined heat and power (CHP) plant onsite to provide energy without exporting to the grid.’

Integration with the existing energy infrastructure was a key engineering consideration at the tender stage, further complicated by an export limit of 0 kW imposed by the DNO. Fortunately, RenEnergy were able to call upon extensive experience of similar projects to design a viable and cost effective solution.

Gareth Ellis, Energy & Environment Manager said: ‘The University is committed to renewable energy and the installation of the PV panels will improve our carbon footprint. Cranfield already has a CHP on site producing 60% of their electricity. We have made significant reductions in carbon emissions in recent years and are well on our way to achieving our target of a 50% reduction by 2020 against our 2005 figures.’

If you would like more information about this project, or how to save money and decarbonise your own business, please contact Tom Lloyd on +44 (0) 1603 71 3448 | +44 (0) 7766 18 1810 |