A businessman who says electricity grid connections prevented him from covering his warehouse roof in solar panels has hit out at energy bosses and politicians.
Roy Fishwick of Thirks-based Cleveland Steel & Tubes, has recently installed 375 kilowatts of solar panels on his Dalton Airfield Industrial Estate premises. But the managing director says a bid to install four or five megawatts – for power-hungry welding operations – was thwarted by the condition of the local electricity grid.
He said: “We have the means financially and space wise that we could have four or five megawatts of power on our roofs, but I feel let down because I’m not allowed to connect anything to the grid around here – it’s a shambles.”
Mr Fishwick added: “I’ve got six acres of roof here and our sister company next door has 15 acres. There’s even more on the rest of the estate. All that could be generating power for the site, and anything we don’t need could be sold back to the grid so it doesn’t go to waste, and we get a better financial return on our investment.”
Despite the frustrations, Mr Fishwick said his current setup will lower energy bills. He said: “We pay around £9,000 a month for our electricity at the moment, and in very simple terms we should save 25-30% on those bills. So the financial payback on the panels was a no brainer for us – they will have paid themselves off after just three years. The major frustration is that the panels we’ve got cover a quarter of one of our roofs and generate 60-70% of our total electricity needs during the day – imagine what we could do if we could cover the whole thing.”
The news was received with disappointment by CPRE, the countryside charity, which is campaigning for the Government to support solar installations on homes, offices and industrial buildings. Richard Cowen, chair of CPRE’s North East region, said: “I applaud Roy for taking this major step on solar, which we know it makes financial and environmental sense. It’s really disappointing that the local electricity grid was not able to accept more and this is a challenge which clearly needs to be addressed.
“CPRE is running a national campaign on this and as well as calling on the Government to support it, we need all organisations to up their game and find ways to support businesses like Roy’s and others to move forward on solar. We can get real momentum on this and the results could be hugely impressive but the will of those with their hands on the levers of power, and the infrastructure to match, is going to be key.”
In a statement, Northern Powergrid, responsible for the local distribution network in the area, said: “Northern Powergrid is investing in vital local electricity networks to create capacity for new connections, including low carbon technologies like solar panels, heat pumps and electric vehicle charge points. In line with legislation, distribution network operators like Northern Powergrid, have a duty to make a connection if a customer requests and pays for it.
“Connections costs are based on the most electrically viable, lowest cost solution that meet the customer’s need. The costs can vary due to the nature of the work required, and in some cases may require network operators to do work on existing networks to deliver the connection.
“While we cannot comment on individual customers‘ connections requests, we can confirm that we have been engaging and continue to work closely with key stakeholders, including the local authority, to find a solution that meets the current and future energy needs of customers in the Dalton Industrial Estate area.”
Original artice – https://business-live.co.uk/all-about/yorkshire-humber