Crown Estate and Stone Factory to reap benefits of solar 'Energy Roof'

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UK's largest land & property owners go solar with UK designed, roof replacing 'Energy Roof'

As a result of a half-million pound investment by The Crown Estate, a stone factory in Portland stands to save thousands of pounds a year on its electricity bills. The Crown Estate-led project saw solar photovoltaic (PV)panels successfully installed on a factory building that it lets to Albion Stone, a local mine operator and manufacturer. In addition to the considerable electricity savings available to Albion Stone, the solar panels will also generate a return for The Crown Estate, which pays its entire revenue surplus to HM Treasury. Electricity generated from the installation will be sold to Albion Stone at a reduced rate, with any surplus fed in to the National Grid.

This is the largest solar project in which The Crown Estate has invested. The panels are expected to generate over 150,000 kWh of electricity per year – the equivalent to the annual consumption of 45 houses – and will reduce Albion Stone’s carbon footprint by 80 tonnes per year. The installation is particularly innovative – instead of the panels being built on to the existing roof, the installation provider replaced the entire roof with an integrated solution, or ‘Energy Roof’. The Energy Roof will generate electricity for 25 years and requires little maintenance.

Alan Laidlaw, head of new business development for The Crown Estate’s rural estate, said: “Our investment at Portland represents a significant first step into solar energy for us. We will continue to create opportunities for renewable energy investment on our estate, and are already planning further installations in the coming years. In particular, we welcome a joint investment approach to renewable energy, which works both for us and our tenants, by protecting their businesses from volatile energy markets, and at the same time cutting carbon emissions from our estate.”

Susannah Wood, sales director at Solarcentury, the company that installed the solar system, said: “The Crown Estate recognised that solar can add value to their buildings by reducing energy costs for its tenants. Broadening their offer of support for tenants as property owners, they now help generate energy and at the same time create a sustainable income. Choosing to update the property with a new solar roof, or Energy Roof, is part of a growing trend to use solar power as a building product. The owners of agricultural and industrial properties are finding this an innovative way to update and maximise yields from buildings.”

The Crown Estate was keen that the installation should not result in any loss of business for Albion Stone, and organised the installation to allow the factory to continue to operate throughout. Michael Poultney, Managing Director of Albion Stone, said “Albion Stone has been pleased to support The Crown Estate’s solar panel project at our stone production factory, which further reinforces the company’s commitment to a continuing reduction in the carbon footprint for our Portland Stone.”

Solarcentury has now installed 100 of its “Energy Roofs”, since the building integrated product was designed by the company in 2009. Industrial, agricultural and commercial roofs have been replaced with the solar across the UK, France and Italy as organisations and individuals look to upgrade their roofs.

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