Cerne Abbas Village Hall – Solar Panels & LED Lighting Project

Location: Cerne Abbas, Dorset
Project cost:
Grant: £17,040.88
Estimated Savings: 20 tonnes of CO2 per year 
Equipment / Installer: 20 kWp solar PV rooftop array (66 panels) and solar diverter – Dorset Energy Solutions, 68 LED light fittings – EC Electricals

View the Cerne Abbas Village Hall case study here

As part of Cerne Abbas Village Hall’s plans to become carbon neutral they installed a 20 kWp solar PV array on their south facing roof space.  And replaced old fluorescent light fittings with 68 highly efficient LEDs.

Spurred on by a rise in environmental awareness, the committee of Cerne Abbas village hall decided it was time to act and do their bit to steer the village towards a zero-carbon future.  Unsure of what needed to be done to achieve this they reached out to Low Carbon Dorset for guidance.  After a site-visit, Low Carbon Dorset technical officer Erik produced an energy report for the committee which listed recommendations on how to reduce energy use and costs.  This gave the committee members a good understanding of what needed to be done and they set about contacting local suppliers and gathering quotes.

One of the biggest opportunities to reduce the carbon emissions of the hall was to take advantage of its south facing roof by installing solar panels.  It was estimated that the roof could fit a 20 kWp array, double what the hall used on a day-to-day basis.  Any excess electricity generated by the panels would feed in to the national grid (unfortunately at no financial gain to the hall as the feed-in-tariff scheme (FITs) ended prior to the project beginning).  Regardless of the lack of financial incentive the committee made the forward-thinking decision to install as many panels as their roof could take and maximise their electricity generation.

When the price of battery storage comes down, they plan to invest in a battery so they can make the hall self-sufficient in its energy use. This will involve storing any excess energy generated in peak times and using it when their panels are not generating as much in the evenings and winter months.

The panels are estimated to save around 9 tonnes of CO2 each year and cost £18,800. Low Carbon Dorset provided a grant to cover 40% of this cost.

With the potential to reduce the energy used by the hall’s lighting by 90%, a switch to LEDs was a no brainer for the village hall committee.  They replaced 78 low efficiency fluorescent lights fittings with 68 LEDs at a cost of £19,050 (40% of this cost was paid for by a Low Carbon Dorset grant).  This measure alone will save 11 tonnes of CO2 and £2.2k in energy bills each year!

Further recommendations were made in the hall’s energy report which included turning down room thermostats to below 20°C, further ceiling insulation and an additional standing induction hob to reduce the gas used for cooking.  The committee can apply for additional grants from Low Carbon Dorset to help fund any of these measures up until June 2020.

Here’s what Cerne Abbas Village Hall’s committee had to say about their project:

Installation of equipment: To maximise our energy generation from solar power 66 Solar PV panels were fitted on the roof giving 20kWp PV. This was the maximum possible output for the available roof space. Inside the hall the original 78 low efficiency fluorescent light fittings were replaced with 68 LED fittings.

Issues encountered: As both Solar PV and LED lighting installations are so common these days, with known and proven technology, we experienced no real issues with them.

Benefits: The benefits of us fitting Solar PV and LEDs into the hall is that we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 19.61 tonnes of CO2 per year. At the same time, we will reduce the hall’s annual energy bill.

Lessons learned: As we were given expert help and advice by Low Carbon Dorset from the start, we did not experience any problems. We used well respected suppliers of Solar and LEDs who offered expert advice. There are no reasons for us to do things differently.

Our project: This project is a major step towards making the building carbon neutral, as the 20 kWp PV array has been sized to give maximum low carbon electricity generation. The fitting of LED lighting will simultaneously reduce our demand for energy. It is our ambition to take this further as the technology advances to fit battery storage and become totally carbon-neutral. We believe this project is a model of what can be done by community organisations and businesses towards reducing carbon emissions.

The support we received from Low Carbon Dorset was invaluable, their knowledge and expertise helped quantify our goals on energy efficiencies and their guidance helped us to attain tangible results.

“This project is a major step towards making our hall carbon neutral, something that can be easily replicated by other community groups and businesses.

“The support and guidance we received from Low Carbon Dorset was invaluable.  Their knowledge and expertise helped us achieve our carbon reduction goals.”

Tom Kirkham – Cerne Abbas Village Hall manager

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