Chester Community Energy Ltd (CCEL) successfully commissioned a solar PV installation at Christleton Sports Centres in February 2020. The project has an installed capacity of 59.9 kilowatts peak (kWp) and is predicted to generate 48,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in the first year, with a one percent annual decrease in output over the 25 year life of the solar panels. The installation consists of 222 solar panels, laid out in two arrays facing south east and south west, to maximise solar radiation capture during morning and afternoon. The panels are BYD 270 watt silver PV modules mounted on a Van der Valk ballasted mounting system. Solaredge 3 phase inverters allow the performance of the panels to be monitored remotely in real time. The installation was designed, procured and installed by Genfit Ltd, a renewable energy business based in Chester. The sports centre is operated by Brio Leisure Ltd and the building owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
All the electricity generated is to be used by the sports centre, who purchase the electricity from CCEL under a power purchase agreement. This saves the centres significant costs as the price per unit is much lower than the grid price paid to their electricity supplier. The saving in CO2 over the life of the project is estimated to be 560 tonnes based on the present electricity generating mix. The income from the centre, plus a small feed in tariff subsidy, provides an income for CCEL of approx. £7,000 per year. Solar panels work by transferring some of the energy in light to electrical energy and operate completely pollution free. They require only one inspection per year just to check the system over but as there are no moving parts there is no ongoing maintenance.
The commissioning was marked at Christleton Sports Centre by visits from Chester MP, Chris Matheson and CWAC councillors Richard Beacham and Matt Bryan, who all enthused about the project and how it will contribute to sustainable energy provision. Others present were Mark Swaffield of Brio Leisure, Dave Houston and Brenda of Genfit Ltd and Graham Booth, Matt Clegg and Joanne Sparke of CCEL.
Chris Matheson MP, an advocate of community based enterprises, said:
“I am concerned that we are not making nearly enough progress in terms of sustainability and responses to the global climate crises, but any response that we can achieve is better than no response and often it will be the local solutions such as this solar power project that will make a difference”.