Nursery supplier repurpose large scale greenhouses to save energy and carbon!

When Nottinghamshire nurseryman Neal Wright needed to build 6500 sq m acres of greenhouse he had to do it within a tight budget, but he was also determined to make a positive impact on the environment. Since he and his wife Barbara started Micropropagation Services as a wholesale nursery supplier in 1985 they have grown their business as well as their plants – to the extent that they now produce over a million plants each year and have needed to expand their facilities. They decided early on that they wanted to glaze as much as possible of their new greenhouses with Solar PV glass that would generate electricity to be used by themselves and the community they live in. They also wanted, if possible, to limit the environmental impact of the project by renovating and repurposing large scale greenhouses that they had heard were being replaced and hence becoming available in The Netherlands, through Oolsthorn bv. This would obviously avoid wasting existing materials and the very large energy and materials cost of creating new buildings from scratch.

At this point Neal contacted a number of Solar PV installers including Geo Green Power, one of the leading UK installers of Solar PV and renewable energy systems in the agricultural sector. James Cunningham from Geo Green Power continues the story, “Whilst we were enthusiastic to support Neal with his project, we could see why companies had found his application difficult to supply. The use of second-hand greenhouses meant that the PV glass had to be the same dimensions as the plain glass that would normally be used – i.e. only 4mm thick and with precise requirements on width and length. Fortunately Geo Green Power are able to custom manufacture PV glass to individual requirements in partnership with ET Solar one of the largest PV manufacturers in the world and were therefore able to meet Neal’s specifications within the project timescale and budget.”

It seems Neal Wright is very happy with the outcome, “By working carefully with Geo Green Power on the positioning of both panels and plain glass we’ve created a 150kW solar PV system but also produced excellent maintained good light levels with only about 20% shading for the plants. It looks like in our first year we’ll generate 135 MW hours of clean electricity, saving the equivalent of 80 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, as well as our electricity bill. Taking into consideration everything including the feed in tariff payment we’ll receive each year it looks like we’ll be making about a 20% per annum return on our investment in PV – and it all worked out just in time for summer too!”

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