Our site Ewelme Watercress Centre, the home of Ewelme Watercress Beds and Local Nature Reserve had solar panels installed on its roof by Sims Solar of Wallingford earlier this year. Generation started on 1 March.
The installation was generously supported by contributions from Cllr Freddie van Mierlo’s Oxfordshire County Councillor Priority Fund, Cllr Andrea Powell’s South Oxfordshire District Councillor Community Grant, Grundon plc via the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment and the European Regional Development Fund via OxFutures and the Low Carbon Hub.
In their first six months of operation, the ten panels, rated at 375 Watts peak output, have generated 2980 kWh of electricity, saving 762 kg of carbon dioxide from being emitted. This is equivalent to that from planting 35 trees. The energy generated compares with a predicted output of 2804 kWh for a whole year.
David Cooper, Treasurer of Ewelme Watercress Beds Management Team, said “We are absolutely delighted with the performance of our solar panel installation, which is making a major contribution to reducing the carbon emissions from our building and, in view of rocketing fuel prices at present, will save us a significant amount of money on our future electricity bills.”
Alison Barraclough, Chair of the Management Team, said: “The generous contributions from our funders made the installation of the solar panels possible. We are exploring ways in which we can use the installation as a demonstration for the benefits of solar generation in the local community.
The Watercress Centre, opened in 2004, was built with a ground source heat pump system to provide background heating, which has operated reliably over 18 years and is very energy efficient. Heat is extracted from beneath an adjacent watercress bed on the Ewelme Brook.