Solar power plant on Rolls-Royce factory rooftops

Three companies step up to implement government low carbon energy policy, despite steep funding cuts

© BELECTRIC Solar & Battery

The new PV power plant at Rolls-Royce factory rooftops with nominal power of 3.42 MWp © BELECTRIC Solar & Battery

BELECTRIC UK has completed a 3.42 MWp (megawatt peak) solar power installation on the rooftops of the Rolls-Royce defence aerospace manufacturing facility in Bristol, UK. The new solar power plant — Rolls-Royce’s first in the UK — will generate over 3 million kWh (kilowatt hours) of clean energy annually for the next 25 years.

This would be enough to power 900 average UK homes from the rooftops of a single factory. The plant will displace an estimated 1.4 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Rolls-Royce will realise immediate savings on its energy bills by using all the zero-carbon electricity generated within its Bristol site, which is being provided to Rolls-Royce through a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) priced below their current cost of energy. As well as a price advantage today, this PPA will safeguard against future energy price rises resulting from increasingly expensive fossil-fuel and nuclear generation.

In the time between conception and construction of the Bristol solar plant, successive cuts in government incentives for low-carbon energy had major impacts upon the economics of the project. However, despite feed-in tariffs having been reduced to the point of insignificance, Rolls-Royce, BELECTRIC UK and Rockfire were able to deliver a path forwards by finding an acceptable balance of energy costs, commitments towards CSR and carbon reduction goals, and acceptable returns on investments.

Toddington Harper, CEO of BELECTRIC UK, commented: “It was only a short while ago that the government was talking enthusiastically about its support for solar energy on industrial and commercial rooftops. Since then, actual government support for solar in real terms has fallen to zero in many cases, threatening the viability of many industrial rooftop installations. Undeterred, we pushed forward with working out how to deliver this fantastic project and remained solutions-focused. We are delighted with the result we achieved with Rolls-Royce and Rockfire - a commercially viable large-scale solar power plant that is not dependent on subsidy and generates clean electricity and offsets carbon emissions on a meaningful scale. Furthermore, we believe this ‘UK first’ sets an exciting precedent and path forwards for how we can continue to deliver solar energy in the UK.”
© BELECTRIC Solar & Battery

The engineering and construction team completed the Solar PV system on time and on budget © BELECTRIC Solar & Battery

Liam Kavanagh, founder and CEO of Rockfire Energy, said: “We would like to congratulate both Rolls-Royce and BELECTRIC UK on achieving such a great result for the low carbon economy in the face of dwindling government support. We were proud to step in to finance the project, and are actively seeking involvement in future large-scale clean energy projects that provide similar environmental and commercial benefits.”

Steve Hudson, Rolls-Royce Operations Director, Defence, said: “In my view, Rolls-Royce has enjoyed a very positive relationship with BELECTRIC UK in all aspects of this project. We have found them to be a very creative, professional and responsive supplier during both the development and execution phases. The positive feedback that I received from our team and employees during the installation here at Bristol was particularly pleasing. Jointly we have delivered a PV solution for the site that we can be proud of.”

Tim Sullivan, Director of Energy & Property Compliance at Rolls-Royce, added: “This project had many twists and turns during its development. Without the determination of both Rolls-Royce and BELECTRIC UK it would not have gone ahead. BELECTRICs development representatives were always highly professional, adaptable and willing to find the right solution for Rolls-Royce. I’ve been most impressed with the people working for them, as they all did their jobs brilliantly. They didn’t interrupt our business and their health and safety practices were spot on. I would recommend them to any business considering solar to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions.”

BELECTRIC will continue to operate and maintain the Bristol solar plant under an O&M contract with Rolls-Royce.