SOLAR panels which can be seen glistening from Castle Hill are helping to save a top Huddersfield firm thousands of pounds on energy bills.
Cummins Turbo Technologies opened its doors to show off the 256 solar panels on the roof of the St Andrew’s Road facilities building.
Capable of providing 190watts each, the panels are expected to save Cummins £35,000 a year in its energy bills.
Jenny Hirst, Cummins’ energy engineer, and Dean Staveley, of Holmfirth-based Newgen which installed the solar panels, explained their purpose to the Examiner.
Currently the solar panels are generating around 66% of the St Andrew’s Road building’s energy supplies and Jenny hopes it will be entirely self-sufficient.
Jenny, whose role is to promote and devise energy-boosting schemes at Cummins, said: “This is a first for me and for Cummins, we’re the pilot scheme and if it goes well here then it will be rolled out at our other sites.
“It’s my job to look at ways of reducing our energy bills at the site – the solar panels will generate about 66% of energy for the main building but that’s just a start.
“I want to get that building entirely eco-friendly.”
There was much preparation work needed before the solar panels could be installed.
Jenny explained: “The whole roof had to be replaced, it was a flat roof which had asbestos in it.
“So the total cost to us was about £166,000, which was higher than the cost of the solar panels because of the work we needed to do before they could be installed.”
She said that early forecasting calculators showed the solar panels would pay for themselves in 6.73 years and her own estimation was 6.3years.
However, based on the real time data in the 52 days the panels have been operational the panels could pay for themselves in 3.2years.
Dean Staveley, of Newgen, said: “Cummins approached us just after Christmas with the idea.
“We started installing them in the first week of August and we had three local guys working on it from start to finish.
“What they don’t use or if they generate more than they need then the excess will go back to the National Grid.”
Dean explained that during daylight hours – even during winter – the solar panels will generate power. At night time under moonlight they could still generate half a watt each.
Yesterday morning, under a cloudy sky, the solar panels were generating 10kw per hour of power.
But Cummins is not resting on its laurels – Jenny has already added skylights to darkened areas and is looking at her next project – she’s working on a geo-thermal project which would provide 95% of a Cummins office heating and cooling requirements.
“Cummins have been very supportive of what we’re doing. Because we’re an American company we had targets with the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions between 2005 and 2010 by 25%.
“We’ve updated that and by 2015 we’ll add an extra 25% to that, so that’s 50% overall we aim to cut and these measures will help.
“We’re working with local companies like Newgen and supporting them because even though we’re a global company, we want to use the nearest resources we can to cut our emissions.”